Thursday, July 14, 2011

Run For The Wall In Five Minutes

I have now made a short five minute version of the documentary I am making.  I plan on making a longer version.  Thank you all who let me interview them.  enjoy!

Run for the Wall in five Minutes from Zachary Hubbell on Vimeo.

This is a five minute summary of Run For The Wall, a run I have ridden on for three years. I plan on making a longer version sometime soon...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Run For The Wall: a Documentary

Many who were on the Run may have been asked by me if they could "answer a few questions for a documentary I'm making."  If you were wondering when that will be coming out, here is an update.
The filming process was easy enough, but post production has always been difficult for me.  I recently bought a new laptop that was supposed to be great for video editing but it is having technical troubles so severe I can no longer even open my editing program for very long, so it has to be shipped to the manufacturer to be fixed, which will take a couple of weeks.

Also, since I was not able to finish the Run, I have asked a fellow Chaplain to provide me with footage from the Wall and other parts of the Run--that way I can have footage from the whole trip.

Editing may take a while, but I have some great interviews and shots and would hate to let them go to waste.  It may take longer than I'd like, but I plan on getting it done as soon as possible.

Thanks to all who let me interview them--no one ever rejected me when I asked!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Challenge

In my first year going on Run For The Wall, I was going on it because it was a tough challenge and learning experience that Dad wanted me to do in order to prove that I was becoming a young man.  In the years that followed, I did not think I would come up against many new challenges.  But this year I think I have come to a harder challenge than any in the years before.

It was a cold morning, but definitely better than the one in Williams, AZ.  I kept comparing Angel Fire to Williams and it might just be me but I think it was warmer in Angel Fire the whole way through.

We had breakfast in the same building that we had eaten dinner in the night before.  The rider's meeting was just outside the door in a parking lot.

The meeting itself was pretty routine, but at the end there was an announcement that it was Mr. Kevin's Birthday.  We had fun humiliating him as we sang happy birthday to him.  I also noticed throughout the day everybody referred to him as the birthday boy.  I think we had a better time than he did.

I thought the ride would be miserably cold, but it wasn't bad for very long.  As we got lower down the mountain it warmed up.  It was probably the best day of riding I had the whole Run.

We arrived at Raton with no problems.  I remembered that on my last run this was the only leg we had had with rain on the Run.  And I had thought that was bad.

We fuelled there and afterward the Independent Riders of Raton held a small ceremony for us.  They were the ones who provided the free fuel at this stop.  The Mayor of Raton came up and said a few words.  Of course, plaques were given, and shortly after that we took off again.

We paraded through Trinidad, where we used to get fuel years ago.  However, the people there did not think that was a reason not to let us parade on through.  There were lots and lots of people with lots and lots of flags.

The ride was starting to get hot now.  We had a hard time at the lunch stop in La Junta keeping cool.  However, I wasn't thinking much about the heat because my Mom had come over along with extra supplies.  We unpacked the bike, added what was new, repacked the bike and tried to fit lunch in.  We barely got on the bike in time to leave with the pack.

The last leg was nice.  The mountains came in and out of sight and the hills rolled along endlessly.  It was a nice ride, a little too hot at first but as evening set in it got cooler.  We stopped in Limon at a truck stop for fuel.  As we got off the bike for a break, Pastor Arnie Swift came up to me and asked if I heard a clicking noise on the motorcycle.  I wasn't really listening to the bike but hadn't noticed a difference, so I just said no.

Well, it turns out he was right.  Dad heard the noise too and started looking the bike over.  When I had finished my break and was walking out to the bike Arnie and Pastor Dan came to me and started saying they were sorry and would miss me.  I wasn't sure what they meant until Dad and them explained that the bike was having engine troubles.  We couldn't fix it in time to join back with the Run and had nothing else that would work this year.  I couldn't continue the Run.

There have been a lot of hard times on the Run For The Wall--riding through rain (and snow), camping for days, staying up late and then waking up early to name a few of them.  But this was the hardest part this year:  watching the entire pack slowly ride away, platoon by platoon, without me.

We rolled the bike back out of the parking lot and put it next to the building. Dad bought a lunch of corn dogs, chips and soda and had me get the computer off the bike.  We were both having a hard time coping with this huge change of plans.  Dad was really sad.  I was disappointed.  We tried to get the Run off our minds with movies from the Internet while we waited for some people from Dad's church to come from Pueblo with a trailer and pick us up.  Those were some hard hours of waiting.

Eventually, the trailer came and we loaded the bike.  The drive back was quite different, even though we were on the same roads.  Not only was the scenery different when viewed inside a car, but looking on it from the other side of the Run just isn't the same.

It was late when we stopped.  We dropped the bike off at Dad's mechanic's house.  When we got home, it was very late.  I hadn't thought I'd be sleeping in my own bed that night.

The Run was fun, even though hard.  I didn't make it all the way, but I know that if I could have, I would have.  It would have been easier for me to have finished, but then again, being a man sometimes means just getting through it even when it's hard.

I already asked Dad and he has confirmed that Emily, my little sister, is coming on the Run next year, so the next time I am on the Run I will be on my own bike.  I'm not sure what year I'll be able to join again, but I just know I want to complete my trip to the Wall someday.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 8: Angel Fire (New Mexico)

The pattern is setting in.  Wake up, pack up cords and clothes, get breakfast, go to the meeting and ride, ride, ride.  Of course, this morning was a little different than the others.  For the first time, there was neither rain or snow on the ground.  Also, the meeting was at a movie theatre that was heated, so when we wanted to we could go inside and get warm.

The meeting went about as usual.  When we took off, it was not as cold as previous mornings.  New Mexico was doing its best to be warm but the clouds that had covered the sky yesterday followed us today as well.

We stopped at the Route 66 Casino Hotel.  It has always been a great stop for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the fuel for everyone on the Run is free.  Second, they don't hold back on the snacks.  They had beef jerky, peanuts, different candies, soda and more.

We continued into Albuquerque and turned North.  We now took a different route than the one we had used to get to the Run and eventually ended up at the Camel Rock Casino, where we had lunch.

I needed to get in front of the bikes when we rolled into Angelfire, so I asked the Advance team if I could tag along with them for one leg in their car.  I was a little disappointed I would have to be off the bike for a leg, but there was no other way to get ahead of the Run.

I think the ride on the bike might have been easier.  We finished lunch in a hurry and got into the car just after the five minute departure alarm had been called.  We got out of the parking lot just before it was too late and started on our way to Angelfire.  It looked like we wouldn't be able to get ahead for a while because the police escort almost had us pull over so that the Run could go ahead.  But they saw the Advance Team sticker on the windshield and let us pass.  Soon we were well ahead.
The road was full of twists and turns.   Going up and down mountainsides required these kinds of roads and was a hazard to the bikes.  Luckily everyone came through safely as far as I have heard.

As soon as we reached the memorial I got out of the car with my equipment and set up the cameras for filming and taking pictures.  It was incredible, watching every bike come up out of the valley and onto the mountain-like hill the memorial is built on.

When everyone was there, I picked up my cameras and went in the memorial.  There were people all over, both veterans and citizens, looking at the pictures, items, models, books and rooms.  Many people were very emotional as they took it all in.

As for me it was a humbling experience to see the dedication and sacrifice our troops displayed in their service.  The pictures stuck out to me.  Pictures of soldiers in Vietnam doing many things, from playing with children to taking cover from enemy fire.  I remembered the pictures from previous years, but that did not take away from their effect this year.

The Chapel was a quiet place where people lit candles at the far corner and could sit and think.  I tried to stay as quiet as I could with my noisy camera.

After looking around some more, Dad and I left for dinner, which was served a few miles away for free.  The building was a little cramped, but we were all glad to eat.  Someone volunteered to give free back massages and many people took advantage of it.

When dinner had finished, Mr. Kevin joined us again and we all went to the hotel.  It is pretty fancy; I always feel kind of bad when we're at such a nice place to leave it so early in the morning the next day.  Tomorrow we have to get up as early as 4:45 in the morning, so I'll try to get some hard sleep before the next big day.  We will pass Colorado in one day and end up in Kansas according to the plan.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 7: Arizona-New Mexico

I was not looking forward to going outside again.  There was a lot of snow on the ground and it was still pretty cold.  But we needed to get out there at some point, so after breakfast at the hotel we got loaded and left.

It wasn't as cold as I was afraid it would be, but it was still chilly.  We rode a few minutes and then got to where we had the morning rider's meeting.  We all stayed there for an hour or two, talking and waiting for it to start.  It wasn't very cold now.  The meeting was fine, but I knew it would be a lot colder during the ride.

I had been worried the road might be icy and the weather would be terrible, but it was pretty good compared to the day before.  The roads were clear and we had just a little fog.  We got out of  mountains and it cleared up immediately.  In fact, I almost got warm for a few minutes.

By the time we stopped for gas it was cloudy again.  It was a short day, so we had lunch after a thirty mile leg.  Dozens of people lined the streets, welcoming the Veterans home.  We stopped at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.  Lots of people had flags.  What stuck out to me was that all the people, from the ones saluting us to the ones serving the food, were happy while they worked.  I was shown once again the appreciation people have for their vets.

The last leg of the day was longer than the others, at just over 100 miles.  Someone pulled over on the way and Dad hadn't seen a thumbs up sign (which means they're okay), so we stopped as well.  We were about walk over and see what the problem was but just then we saw the bike pull away and continue as usual.
The rest of the ride was spent catching up to the pack.  A few miles after we got in place, we arrived in Gallup.  I had thought people were enthusiastic at the lunch stop, but here in Gallup there were far more people waving hundreds of flags.  The city went on and on, with people waving and welcoming veterans home.

Then we rounded a corner and I saw a giant flag hung by fire trucks.  Most of the people were grouped here, forming a walled path to the parking lot.  We got off the bikes and gathered in a large circle.  In the middle there were some drummers and people doing native Indian dances.  A man played bagpipes and many came and spoke about the Run and the city's heritage, not to mention the plaques that were given away.  During all this the weather changed from cloudy to hailing to raining and then back to just cloudy.  It was hard to stand out there in the hail but we stayed.

Afterwards we had some of the free steak dinner and went to our hotel.  It was starting to hail again, and we were all sick of the wet weather.

Day 6: The Run Begins (California-Arizona)

We got up at five this morning so we could get packed up and be at the daily mandatory rider’s meeting by six. We were lost for a while, until we found someone who knew where to go.

It was lightly raining and very cloudy. We got breakfast, free at the meeting, and talked while people got the meeting ready.

The meeting included, among other things, an introduction to RFTW and many tips on safety. After that meeting the Platoon leaders had a meeting with their platoons (or in the case of the chaplains we had a prayer meeting), and then we got on our bikes and prepared to leave. The procession of moving all the hundreds of bikes took some time, but we got through it and soon were on our way.

The first leg of the run was much like when we were going to Rancho Cucamonga. Since the road we used was the same, the effect was even more pronounced. Mist had set in heavily again and was mixed with a little rain now and then. As we climbed up mountains, it got more clear until we could see the end of the mist. It was pretty clear the rest of the way.

Our first stop brought back a few memories. The bikes lined up into a huge parking lot, sorted by platoons. We gassed up in order and were done relatively quickly--at least, quickly for hundreds of bikes.

We had a little time to just wait and have a break from riding, but soon it was time to go again. It is always amazing to watch so many bikes hit the Highway, one by one in order until the entire parking lot was emptied.

We went on like this for many hours. The next stop the refreshment trailer was open and almost everyone went to grab a bottle of water or a snack. I found slim jims and made sure to grab a few.

A little after we got into Arizona we stopped for lunch at Kingman. Something seemed wrong. Every year I had been here it was really, really hot. This year it seemed fine. Then I heard it was snowing ahead, which explained the cool temperature. I had never seen snow on the Run except at Angelfire, New Mexico, which is in the mountains and is usually the coldest point on the Run. I also heard it was supposed to be thirty degrees. Suddenly I didn’t want to leave the lunch area.

The next leg was fine, but it started cooling more. We barely had fuelled when everyone started to leave again. There was supposed to be a chance of rain ahead, so Dad took some time to get ready for it rather than hurrying to keep up. And when we did take off, it was not long until we found all the others.

The weather cooled even more. It was getting really cold, but when we came to where it had snowed it got miserable. We just wanted to finish the ride. Luckily, this was the last leg of the day, but Dad had gotten so cold we went straight to a hotel after coming into Williams. 
We took a long time warming up in the hotel and were really glad we could. The storm looks like it may continue tomorrow and it’s hard to say how we’ll get through it with ice on the roads. The rider’s meeting tomorrow has been delayed an hour already. I hope that’s all we have to wait for the roads to become ridable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 5: Last Day Before the Run

We got to sleep in and have a slow breakfast one more time.  Chaplain Duane Gryder came and joined us, along with "Road Thing," the Central Route Senior Chaplain this year.  It was raining lightly, so I was glad we could stay inside.

Dad needed a few giant safety pins to get his chaplain armband on his vest.  The pins were actually kilt pins, or something like that, but they looked like they wouldn't come loose like the little safety pins we had used in the past.  Chaplain Gryder bought his at a craft store about a mile away.  Dad had me walk over there, but I got lost for just a little while.  Eventually, I figured out where I was and where I needed to be and found the store.  I felt awkward in my biker leathers next to a bunch of sewing people with "kilt pins" and was glad to be walking back to the hotel.

When it came around lunch time, Dad and I went to a Barbecue pit to talk for a while, but we didn't want to blow a bunch of cash there, so we just walked a little way over to Carl's Jr. to eat.

The FNG* meeting followed soon after.  There were many new people coming to the Run this year, so the meeting was very crowded.  The Route Coordinator and others discussed the basics of the Run--what to do, how to ride, things to avoid and more.

Then there was a bike blessing.  Dad gave away a lot of bike blessing stickers.  A free dinner was served afterward.  With almost all of the riders there, the line was extremely long.  I just waited until most of the people had eaten before I got in line.

While we all ate, there were free giveaways and many people talked on a trailer with speakers hooked up.  Dad went up and talked about RFTA, which stands for Run For Them All, and organization Dad has helped start.  The goal of the organization is to get new people on the Run so when Vietnam era vets cannot continue the ride it does not end.  They helped five FNG's afford going on the ride this year and are raising funds by selling patches.

After that there wasn't much left to do but go to bed and get ready for the start of the Run For The Wall.

*New people to the Run are called FNG's.  In Vietnam, this was a name for new soldiers.  On the Run, many refer to FNG as Fine New Guy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 4: Registration

We slept in this morning and did not hurry through breakfast.  It was pretty uneventful, although I felt a little sick for a while.

Mr. Kevin asked if I could help with registration.  He needed me around noon, so I got up and went to the Hotel across the parking lot, where everyone would gather to sign up for RFTW.  Most of the bikers had come by now and there were plenty of opportunities to talk to people.

I spent some time labeling papers and tags with numbers 1-200, and by the time I had finished with that the registration line was very long.  It took a long time for very much progress to be made at all.

The line did not end all day.  Just as soon as it got close another group would arrive, making the registration workers busy for hours on end.

Dad and I eventually got registered after the line had shortened quite a bit.  It seemed strange to me that after all this, we were only just now on the Run officially.

After that, we were invited to eat dinner at a spaghetti restaurant.  We had a great time talking with many people.  The portions of spaghetti were so large that many of us did not finish our meals, although Dad and I did.

We went back to the hotel, very sleepy from a busy day and a huge dinner.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 3: Rancho Cucamunga

We got up and left by six.  It was cool outside, which meant the ride was a little cold.  Things were going pretty smoothly.  We only had a couple hundred miles and it looked like we would be there in no time.

Then we saw clouds--lots of clouds.  Big, dark, cold and soaking wet black clouds.  We stopped for gas before we hit them and thought about what to do.  I think all of us wanted to stay at the gas station and wait it out, but Dad decided we should just go for it in case it only got worse.  We only had one more leg and we weren't sure we would hit the storm anyway.

Keeping a close eye on those clouds, we set off again, keeping ready for the worst.  We seemed to be headed straight for the storm, but the road turned in time and we avoided it, at least for a little while.  Then it turned again and we faced a thick wall of water.  It looked a bit like heavy rain, but as we got closer it turned out to be really thick fog.  The change from clear air to the worst of the fog was abrupt.  As soon as we entered the fog, I looked back and could not see anything else.

It was better than rain, but it was still miserable.  Water didn't fall on us; it just got us wet as we rode through it.  Thankfully our electronic gear stayed dry.

It also got really cold.  I don't think it was quite as bad as Trinidad, but it got close.  I'm not sure how long we were in the fog; it seemed somewhere around a half hour.  I was so happy to see a sign saying Rancho Cucamonga was five miles away.

It started raining lightly as we pulled into the hotel parking lot.  We couldn't find the entrance at first, but after we circled the building we figured out where it was.  Finally, we parked and I was able to get off the bike.  We went inside as soon as we could to check in.  When we did, we heard that breakfast was still open for another ten minutes.  We hadn't eaten yet, so me hurried and got some.  Being some of the first bikers to have arrived at the hotel, most of everyone else there were "normal" people with suits and ties.  Our hands were still clumsy from the cold, and while we made a bit of a mess of our breakfast people starting giving us weird looks.
We did not come out to get our stuff until we had gone into our room and settled in a bit.  It rained some more while we were indoors, but eventually we went outside to move the luggage and the bikes.

We stayed in the room for a few hours, waiting for Dad's meeting at one.  When it came around, Dad left and I stayed in the room for a couple hours longer.

When he came back, he let me leave the hotel and talk to the people who had come since the last time I was outside.  People were arriving pretty steadily for it being this early.  I talked to many people I recognized, and the rest of the day was mostly spent talking. 

In the evening, Dad, Mr. Kevin, Chaplain Gryder (who rode with Dad, me and Chaplain Dean last year) and another friend walked around for a few minutes.  We found a Carl's Jr. where we ate dinner.  We all talked a while, and when we were done we all went home for the night.  Tomorrow more bikers will arrive and will be filling out paperwork to sign up for RFTW.

Day 2: New Mexico-Arizona

We started out again much like the day before. We did not have to get up early again, so we took it pretty easy while we got packed and ate breakfast. Dad had a good time talking with DC before we took off again.

It was hot and windy as we rode across Arizona on Highway 40. I enjoyed recognizing a lot of the same places we stop on the Run For The Wall route. We stuck with each other for most of the day, but we weren't stopping in Las Vegas, so when we had lunch at McDonald's we parted ways. It was a bit of a letdown to be back to two bikes, but I knew we would see each other the next day.

We continued on our way to Needles, CA. It got a lot hotter right after stopping at Kingman. I was glad we were moving fast as the wind kept me relatively cool.

Soon we stopped for the day. Gas was ridiculous in California, at $4.89 a gallon for the cheap stuff! I hated to stop at all, because when the wind quit blowing it was hotter than before. We quickly checked into a Motel 6 and turned the air conditioning on. I was glad we rode so hard the day before so that we didn't have to go far today. Better yet, tomorrow is going to be even shorter. However, Dad needs to be at Rancho Cucamunga by 11AM for a meeting, so we won't have quite as much time to be slow. After that, we can relax for a few days before the Run starts.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 1: The Trip Begins...Again.

A few days ago Mr. Kevin came to our house.  He is riding with Dad and I this year, so he stayed with us at the house until today.  We got everything loaded on (including all three of my cameras/camcorders) and said goodbye.  We prayed briefly for safety on the road and that things would go well at home, too.

Then we were off.  We had waited to leave until eight because the temperature was twenty degrees colder at six, but when we did get on the road it was still cold.  The temperature itself wasn't so bad, but we were on motorcycles, which meant a lot of windchill.  I figured out right away what I had forgotten to take.  Gloves.  My hands felt so cold, but there was nothing to do.
We stopped in Avondale, just a few minutes West of our house, to make sure we had enough gas for the ride.  From there, we went through Pueblo and got on I-25.  We traveled for a while just fine, but the it got colder.  Dad only had fingerless gloves on, and he didn't want to put his winter gloves on until our next fuel stop.  The only thing for us to do was to tough through it.

Finally, we made it to Trinidad and stopped.  Dad was barely able to use the gas pump, but after he did we went inside and got coffee.  We stayed for a half hour, but our hands were numb for most of that time.  We were all glad for the break.

Reluctantly we pulled ourselves away from the indoors and took off again.  Dad had his winter gloves on now, but it turned out he didn't need them much.  The weather got warmer the further South we went.  Soon it was almost hot.

We crossed into New Mexico and made it to Albuquerque, where we stopped again for gas.  But we weren't expecting to recognize anyone.  When we pulled in, I recognised DC, who has been on the Run for several years, and two others.  They were going the same route we were, so we just rode together for the rest of the day.

Someone else on a motorcycle with a large bag strapped to the back of his bike tried following us.  He had a bright greenish-yellow safety vest, so I guessed that was a road guard.  However, we were going pretty fast and he just couldn't keep up, so he eventually fell out of site.  For a while, though, it seemed like we were leading our own run!

We finally stopped in Gallup, where we found a hotel to stay in.  I was glad that we ate at Denny's for dinner after a long and hard day of riding.  We talked a while before heading off to our rooms again.  We had covered 500 miles today and the plan is to go 300 miles tomorrow, then 200 miles the day after to get us to Rancho Cucamunga, CA, where the Run begins.  We should have a couple days to rest there before the Run begins.  As always, I can't wait!