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.