Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RFTW XXIX is over.  I passed out a lot of cards with the blog on them.  I told everyone that if they came here not to mind the dust and cobwebs.   I am cleaning those out now.

What a journey.  This year I did not go to Colorado, but instead went to Kansas to visit with Ken Cheetos Nuefeld and his wife Carol.  Of course I also visited Buster the dog.  I really enjoyed that short visit.  Ken showed me the9 hole golf course he has in his back yard.  This is no putt putt course it is a true 9 hole golf course with traps and everything.  I do not golf, but may have to take it up. When I first got to Arlington Kansas we got lucky.  Just as soon as I pulled Clyde into Ken's garage the sky let loose with a real downpoor.  But I was dry and so was Clyde.

After a nice afternoon and evening visit and a great night on a self inflating air mattress I headed to Albuquerque to meet my Brother Bob Shoreparty Talley and his friend Homer.  We spent the night in Albuquerque and then went on to Kingman AZ.   We met about 5 other riders at the Route 66 casino and they went on to Kingman and then Ontario CA.   There were to new guys on Trikes, and it was kind of fun answering their questions.

I was the communications team lead for this years run.  I was also the only one on the radio with the trucks.  I did have a team member, a wonderful person and awesome rider named Gary Wells.  His pipes were a little loud but he kept me in line and riding tighter than normal.  It took a few legs to get him to see what I needed, but we worked it out.  The road guard behind us did request that next year I get some one with mufflers on his bike instead of open pipes.  So since Gary will be going back to the Southern Route I will put that in the requirement when I request help.

We had great weather our first day.  That is until we were heading to the middle school in Williams after dinner.  We got hail and sleet.  Then in the morning Clyde was frozen over.  Nothing except the chokes and starter worked.  We all had to thaw bikes out that morning.  Once good old Clyde was parked in the sun for a while he thawed out and everything including the CB was working properly.

In Oakley KS there was a small fender bender while we were getting off the highway.  I had been talking to a tuck driver who was passing the pack.  He saw the whole thing.  Apparently a pick up truck decided to exit with us and hit a couple of bikes.  No real damage and no one was hurt, and because the truck driver was already slowing down he was able to get stop before he ran over any one or any thing.

For the most part we had a pretty safe year.  As always there were errors by riders, and those resulted in some minor injuries, and minor damage to bikes, but we got better as we always do.  This ride is pretty intense, and one MUST stay alert and aware of everything in order to do it.

I camped all the way accross.In Williams because of hail, sleet and freezing conditions we all spent the nigt in the middle school gym, but this is normal this time of year in Williams.   In Gallup we all slept inside because of wind and rain.  In Eagles Nest NM a couple offered some of us the chance to stay at their house because it was going to snow that night.  We quickly took them up on that offer.
It was great. Clyde and Tatanka (that is what my Brother calls his bike) and Homer's Trike spent the night in a heated garage. Everyone else set up in the room we ate dinner in.  We left Eagles Nest with cold air, and wet roads, but no snow anywhere but on parked bikes.

We campers again lucked out in Goodland KS.  We had moved from the National Guard Armory to the Technical College, and it was again going to rain.  So Far we slept inside in Williams, way to cold not to, and at Angel Fire, Eagles Nest, again inside way too cold to camp.  Then In Goodland we slept inside, way to windy and rainey to set up tents.  The Technical College was great and let us use both a garage and their gym.  I hope we can use that again.

Then in Junction City it was supposed to rain again that night, and the Eagles Club where dinner was hosted offered to let campers set up air mattresses in the same room we ate.  Once again it was going to rain and storm so we of course jumped at the chance.

Then came Wentzville, MO.   The weather was great, but again the weather man had predicted heavy rain and high winds.  So far we had been lucky, but were looking at setting up tents, and having to tear them down wet and in high winds in the morning.  Then my brother met Phoebe and Susan.  They were there working as volunteers to help out the VFW in serving all the riders.  There were about 400 of us at that point.  I am not sure how the conversation came to it, but they offered to let about 6 of us sleep at their houses.  Once again we jumped at the chance.

I had a nice chat about the Run, and some politics with Phoebe and her Husband Justin.  Neither of them look old enough to be married, but they were very nice.  Phoebe may be hooked on the Run too.
While I was waiting for my brother to let me know where the houses were I participated in a special 50/50 raffle to raise money for Rainelle. (more on Rainelle in a moment).  I bought $5.00 or 6 tickets.  My friend Cam Larson bought$20 worth of tickets.  Because of many things, Cam handed me his tickets, and headed for his hotel. Right after that I won the clock that was being raffled.  Mine was the fourth or fifth ticket pulled for this.  It had gotten so late that many folks had already left the VFW.
So I won the Clock, and they were going to ship it to me.  Then Gary called Phoebe to get the address, and my brother answered her phone.  He told us to meet him at the gas station down the road from the VFW and he would show us how to get to Phoebe and Justin's house.

When we got there Phoebe let us park our bikes in her garage,  Then she showed us where we were to sleep.  It was great, I had expected to set up my air mattress in the basement, but she had two guest rooms for us.  Gary and I were very very happy with the arrangements.  Plus she had a shower set up in her basement, and had room for maybe 4 or 5 more folks down there.  I will keep this in mind for next year.  
Then next morning Phoebe and her Mom were there to watch the riders leave.  I asked if the clock had been shipped yet, and it had not.  I asked for it.  D.C, Hagerman, our raffle rouser said there was no way I could pack it on a bike.  I told him that I felt that the Run should not have to spend the money to ship it to me.  It weighed almost 40 pounds and would have cost a lot of money to ship.  I gave it to Phoebe and Justin, because they needed a clock for their living room.  It is a beuatiful piece with RFTW 2017 engraved in it.  It is made of Oak and was made in Missouri for the Run.  I just felt that it needed to stay in Missouri, and Phoebe would love it.

When I gave it to her she was shocked, and I think honored to recieve it.  I hope she enjoys it and gets years of use out of it.  She is a great person as is her Husband and Mother and Father.

We visited the Jefferson Barracks VA hospital next.   I and about six other riders went up to the mental ward.  This ward has folks that have admitted themselves because they have either tried to kill themselves, or thought they wanted to.  Entering this ward was through a sally port, or man trap.  We met with and talked to 4 patients.  the nurse told them that we were going to Washington D.C. and that we were going to talk to Congress.  We did not correct her, but maybe we should have.  Congress leaves town when we come.  But the conversation was interesting, and maybe, just maybe we gave these guys some hope.  One of them was very interested in the Run, and when he gets better he may become one of our riders.  I got their names, but did not write them down, and I am terrible at names.
But it was a good visit.  We gave them all hugs, and my card, and left other things for them.  The nurses said they would give them to them when they were released from the ward.  Except for my cards, she said that she would share those in a session that afternoon.  For the most part except that they felt they were treated a lot like criminals, they said that the care they were getting is very good.  This important to our riders, because all of us that are veterans know that someday we could be in a VA hospital.

Then we went on to Corydon Indiana, great fish, and another awesome greeting.  We did set up tents here, warm air, and no rain.

Then we went to Nitro, we stopped in Mt Sterling KY for lunch and fuel, and as always it was great.  This did not used to happen.  Mt. Sterling was always a fuel stop, then we staged and went to lunch where we could.  But several years ago Cruizer and some road guards stopped a dine and dash, and an armed robbery of a gas station.  Two years later we had free gas, and a great lunch.  When I asked about this I was told by a woman in the town that they were not real happy that they had ignored us for so long.  We love Mt. Sterling, and they should not be ashamed, We could have asked for their support a lot sooner, but never really thought about it.

After Mt. Sterling we headed for Nitro WV.  This was a new stop for us.  We rolled in and the travelling Wall was waiting for us.  As was my friend Chuck Shadow Guryek and his wife Lynn.  What great folks,  This year was Shadow's 19th RFTW.  He is a great guy and he gave my Brother and I each a coup feather.  My Brother's was died with the colors of theVietnam Service Ribbon, and mine was just a warrior feather.  But Shadow who is a Medicine Man had blessed both of them.  My Brother really liked his.  I was just honored beyond belief.

The next morning Clyde was straffed by geese.  The crapped all over him, and yes the blessed coup feather was in the trunk.  Guessing it was a goose feather before dyeing and painting was done.  He was in a line of about 12 bikes, and he was the only one hit.  Nitro is a great town, and was a pleasant stop...Campers slept in the Church, rain and high winds again.

From Nitro we headed to the State Capital for a group picture on the Capital steps.  Then we went to the payoff.  That is right we visited the kids at Rainelle WV.  This little town was the first place to welcome the original Run, and we have been paying it back forever.  The Principle of the School rode with us into Rainelle.  She has her own Harley.  Then we gave the school $22,000.00 in cash.  That is right 500 riders donated $22,000.00 in cash to this little town.  Not the most we have ever collected but added to $18,000.00 in coats, hats and gloves given to them this winter it is an impressive number.
We camped at Lewisburg W.V. at the state fair park.  A few hours after we set up it started storming, but I was already asleep, so I did not care.  I slept for almost 12 hours.

Then we went on to Shenendoah Harley for lunch, then Toms Brook VA for fuel.  Then our last leg, into Washington D.C.
The Virginia State Police did an awesome job escorting us in.  We made it easy for them as even with 500+ bikes we were only about a mile and a half along.  (I saw about 100 bikes rolling into Washington D.C. Sunday on my way home, and they were stretched out to almost 3 miles.  They had an escort, but they were not riding very tight at all.)
I camped at the Arlington Assembly of God Church again, and completed my mission on Saturday.  I delivered Mark Tilkens tribute that his Wife Jackie had made up, and I awarded the winner of the knife that I had carried all the way across to the winner.  I raised about $200.00 for Neptune Warrior, and more importantly I got them a used Dive Compressor.  Something they desperately needed.

Final thoughts for this years Run.  In Zanesville OH I stayed at a Super 8 Motel.  They had special parking for veterans, and they gave me a 15% discount because I was on a bike.  I will stay there again.  The manager also sent me an email thanking me for taking the time to tell her about Run For The Wall.

I am home and ready to head back to work.  But I already have a plan for next year, and yes I am doing it again.  This was my 13th Run for the Wall, and I can't stop there.

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Run For The Wall XXIX Mission Accomplished

Bounce Signing Out

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 getting ready for rftw 29

Well it is 2017.  I have not posted much so far this year, and I did not post much last year either.  I do not write as much as I used to.  I still think a  great deal, I just do not have the time to post or write those thoughts down on this blog.

RFTW 2016 was awesome, and Judy and I went to Angel Fire in September to attend the unofficial reunion and lay some bricks.  It was a good trip and two fun days.  Got to talk with friends and enjoy the company of some great people.

I want to thank Krispy and Linda Stimmel for helping me out in the Run.  Made things a lot easier.   I am already saving cash for this years run.  I will be going all the way this year.  I have changed how I do business, and I have no real monthly bills except the normal now.   All I have to do is just drive and maybe train a little and I will be good to go for May. 

Okay that is about it for now.  Phlash Phelps on Sirius/XM 60's on 6 is the man.  I thanked him for his support over the last few years in an email today, but thought I would mention him here too.


Bounce

Saturday, May 28, 2016

RFTW 28 is over and I participated, with help from friends

This year has been difficult for me.  I was legally blind in my left eye when I started last years Run For the Wall.  I failed my DOT physical in June when I returned to work after the Run.  I lost almost 2 months of time getting my left eye fixed, and then another month when I got my right eye fixed.

In January I told Papa Smurf that Merry Starkey (Piccilo) would be available to lead the Communications team, and she did an outstanding job.  In May, and it was not until the first Friday in May, I found that I had enough cash saved to at least do 2 days of the Run.  I planned to go from Goodland KS to Wentzville, MO.

The Run gets to Goodland on the Saturday a week before Memorial day and to Wentzville the Monday a week before Memorial day.  When I was getting ready to leave for Goodland the Stevens Transport Shop called me and told me that my tractor had been hit while it was parked at the Wausau WI Kenworth Dealer.   So I delayed my departure and went over to check it out.  I was told that it would not be ready till yesterday.  Then Yesterday I called to check on the Status of my truck.  Originally I was told it was ready, so I left the Run at Lewisburg and headed home.  I stopped in Hurricane WV and checked again and found out that it will not be ready until next Wednesday.  So now I decided to call everyone and make sure that the assumptions I made earlier were correct.  They were not.  But I will be getting that corrected.  So I am on my way home now, and I will be there tomorrow.

This year was a much better year than last year, I wish I could say that every truck driver we talked to was great, but that is not true, there were a few who were completely against us even being on the road.
To them I say "If you do not want these bikes on the highway, there is a simple solution.  Write Congress and tell them to bring all the missing home.  They could do it but they do not want to remember."   If we the people of Run for the Wall stop, then Congress will forget.  Even the minimal news coverage we get, and there was a lot more of it this year, is enough to get people to mention the missing to their elected leaders.

I had a good ride to Goodland, and a good ride to Lewisburg W.V. with every stop being great it is hard to pinpoint the best one.  They are all great, but as always the kids at Rainelle, WV are my reward for everything I do.

I am already planning for next year.  I may have to find a local job because if I do not I may end up divorced a second time, and no job is worth that.  So if I do change jobs, it will be understood that May is mine.

Thanks to OOIDA, and especially Reed Black, for everything they do, and Phlash Phelps of Sirius/XM 60's on 6 he really tallked us up, and that helped a lot.  We also had several local radio stations along our route actually read the web page and announce our scheduled stops which helps with trucks and cars.

The route coordinator this year said something that initially angered me, but then after thinking about it I realized that the Comm Team did an outstanding job.  he said "What you do does not effect me in any way, I do not hear you, and I do not see any trucks on the highway."  The reason for that is that we the Comm Team have communicated with those trucks and have managed for the last 3 years to keep them from even trying to pass the pack.  Passing 4 miles of motorcycles that are running from 70 o 90 mph, depending on where they are in the pack, and for some strange reason the bikes going faster are in the middle trying to catch up after someone slowed down, can take up to an hour at 65 mph.

I do not have a lot else to say, the people that do this ride are all great, and I love each and every one of them.  I do what I do not for recognition, though that would be nice to have, I do it to keep the people doing this mission safe.

Normally I post every day on the Run, I did not do that this year.  I will next year though.  But there are three stories that I will tell, they are actually one story with three seperate parts.

When I decided to go on from Wentzville, MO to D.C.  I added up all my cash and found that I might be short, but figured I would be able to pull from some saved money and replace it later.  When I got to the Hospital at Jefferson Barracks, I forgot my phone, and instead of going in to visit patients I went back to my bike to get my phone because I had told Reed that I would call him with an update.  After that call I was putting my phone away and a gentleman walked up to me and one of the Road Guards and asked if we were on this ride.  We told him we were, then he asked if we were veterans and we said yes.  He said that he was not a veteran.  Then he shook the Road Guards hand and thanked him for his service, then he shook my hand and palmed $60.00 into my hand and said make sure someone who needs gas money gets this.  Well I may have even posted that part of this story on my FB wall.  I was simply shocked, I did not want to take the money but the man insisted and walked away.  I told the Road Guard what had just happened and he said do you need it for gas, when I told him I did he said that it had gotten to the right person.   Then when I got to Hurricane WV it happened again, this time with $100.00, again I tried to refuse the money, this time I was told by the person who gave it to me "God wants you to have that money and I am not going to argue with God." So I took it.  Then again when I got to Charleston WV it happened again, this time it was $20, and again I tried to refuse, but was told not to.  Had I been praying for help, no not really, I had thought that because my truck was hit that maybe God had wanted me on the Run, but Wow, I actually have enough to get home, possibley use a motel if the weather gets bad.   Thanks you everyone who wanted me there, my only regret is that I did not make it to D.C, this year, but I made it furhter than planned on. I thank God, and all the Riders of Run for the Wall because even though short this was my best Run so Far.  Lord please let everyone get home safely.

All in all my mission is accomplished, I rode as far as I could and I kept people safe.


Bounce

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Last leg of Run for the Wall 27 done. Another year in the books

This year I rode for my Dad.  He was my Step Father,  but he was my Dad.  Donald E. Smith passed away peacefully on September 19th of 2014.  He made three Runs with my Brother, my Wife and I.  He did some of all three on a motorcycle, and he participated in two Rolling Thunder Parades.
My Dad and my Brother encouraged me to participate in my first Run for the Wall in 2005.  That was also his first Run.  He loved his Run Family, and used to have my wife print out the news letters and send them to him.   He was not into computers, but he enjoyed reading about the Run.
We talked about those days several times over the years.  Sometimes I would bring it up on a phone call, sometimes he would.  He would ask how Bones, or Cheetos or Krazy was doing.  He made me call him every day when I was on the Run. 
This year I rode in his memory.  I had his Run hat with me on every leg.  I took his hat with me on my truck from September until April when I left for the Run.   I carried his picture from his first Run with me all the way across the country.  I left his Korean Veteran hat at the wall. 
He was a great Dad, and a proud patriot and veteran. 
I am in Dallas now, and I wish I had my Dad to call because I am not on the road yet. 
He would have liked Leroy Petry, and I wish that I had taken him by OOIDA when he was alive, he would have liked that place.  In truth I rode for him 5 or 6 times, because he couldn't make the trip after 2008, he said he was too old, but he always asked me to call him everyday.  He liked the food at all the stops, but he always had me eat an extra sausage at breakfast at Wentzville, MO.  He used to say those pigs were still squealing when we left L.A., and they probably were.   All the food ona the Run is great, as are the snacks, and the unexpected free gas.  

We are a big family that is the Run is a big family.  There are probably 3 to 4 thousand folks that have done the Run, and follow it every year.  We do not all get to go every year, but when we can't make it we still follow the riders, their blogs, the news reports, the face book and you tube postings.   I am glad I could make this year for my Dad , and my Brother, Shoreparty made it all the way again this year too.   He had to swich to his car after Colorado, but he still participated and fullfilled a vital part of the mission.

Everyone that participates in Run for the wall, from the Veterans that show up just to salute us out of parking lots in the morning, to the thousands of folks who stand out in rain, sleet, hail, high winds, or just down right  beuatiful weather to wave, or salute us, to the people that collect funds all year to pay for gas, or buy the food that is prepared for us, and  freely given to riders are vital to the Mission of Run for the wall.

It doesn't matter if you go one leg, or all ten days.  It doesn't matter if you only stand on an overpass, or simply post a comment on the RFTW forum.  Everyone is part of the family.  There are some riders that have done a volunteer position every year, there are other that just come out to L.A. to support us there.  There are some like my friend Krazy Karl, who emails me and calls me to remind me how important what we do is.

There is he Shadow, who is intragal to the Run.  All of these people are important because they believe like I do in the mission.  That mission has been added to but it is still the same.  We ride for those who can't.

This year I rode for my Dad, and my Brother, but I also rode for myself.  I was the lead of the communications team, and I trained two wonderful folks to keep this vital service going.

I am not saying I can't do the Run in 2016.  I want to.  My friend Curtis Hubbel once told me "Don't you quit this run, you need it as much as we need you."   I won't quit it.  But this year I have been off work almost 3 full months, and I see no way I can go all the way in 2016.   I will try to participate in some way, but I do not think it will be all the way.  Even if I just make phone calls to Reed Black at Land Line now, I will be supporting the mission.

We the riders of Run for the Wall have to keep going, until everyone comes home.  I told a truck driver on the CB radio a few years ago (I have restated this probably 200 times in the last 5 years) If having these bikes out here on the highway bothers you, if you want us to stop what we are doing you can get that done.  Simply inform you Senators or Congressmen that they have got to do their job and bring the missing and those that have not come home from all wars (Some think this run is about Vietnam, it is, but it isn't)  17,000 or more missing since WWI.   We are getting the remains back from Vietnam, and Korea, and Japan and Germany every day.  If you know some one who has a loved one who went to war, and was never returned tell them to get online.  JPAC has hundreds of remains that they want to identify, but DNA testing is relatively new.  

OK sorry this one went long.

Everyone ride safe, and remember even if you can't participate, you can support the Run in several ways.

Bounce

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Home safe and dry....hoping everyone else makes it home safe too

I left Washington D.C. Sunday, and arrived home Monday night late.  I traveled with Cheetos and his wife to Effingham, Illinois, then went north to Wisconsin.

We had a good trip, and I enjoy talking with Kenneth Neufeld.  He is one of those great folks that I just cannot get enough of.  We are friends because of the run, but would be friends if we had met anywhere, because he is just good to get along with.
He is always smiling, and he rides great.  I enjoyed his company and that of his wife Carol.  
It was a long trip, but too short too.

Well there is always next year.    Anyone can ride with us go to the rftw.org web page, look around get on  the forum and ask questions, make a plan save a little cash and come along next year.  You don't have to go all the way, you can do one day, or one leg, it all costs the same $30.00.  The riding is tough, but the stops and the people at them are great.  The support is awesome.  I did not have to pay for a meal till I got to Lewisburg, WV, and I ate 3 days free in D.C. because the Arlington Assembly of God Church feeds all who camp there.  I did donate some cash to that cause, but it was way less than I would have spent in restaurants  for 3 days.

We raised over $12000.00 dollars in 8 days for the school kids at Rainele WV.  So it was a good trip.
Next year,, well I am already planning on it, so is everyone else in the core of 300 or so who keep coming back every year.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Planning to roll home today

Spent two wonderful nights campung at Arlington Assembly of God church.  These people feed us, provide showers and ask nothing in return.  Except for Rainelle and the wonderful kids there this is one of my favorite stops on the run.

This year my $30 registration fee got me 12 days of hard work, free food, water, snacks and so many hugs and thank yous I can't count them.
Several free gas stops, greetings from friends I only see once a year.  I sincerely wish I had known of this run long before 2004.  I do not know what will come, but I just put my first 5 dollar bill aside for 2016.

Thank you to all who participated this year. Write your after action reports if you want change.  Mine will be positive and will include the things we did to make entering the highway safer.

Final note our most expierenced riders were not used this year except for 2 legs.  Those were the smoothest and tightest 2 legs we had.

Mission accomplished

Run for the wall 27, 2015 is complete for me.  We start every day with a Prayer, the Pledge and a rememberance of why we ride. The last few years we do one remembrance from Vietnam (the one I had this year was of an Air Fofce Major whose remains have been found and returned. His name is on panel 16W line 63) we then do a rememberance of men and women lost in the Global war on terror.
This year as I stated in a previous post I rode in honor of my Dad, the Old Marine.  He loved this Run, this Route and this Mission.  He once said that the Vietnam Veterans got a raw deal.  My friend Eamon said that the Australian Vietnam Vets were treated badly becauseit was not considered a war.

This year I adressed a lot, and I do not know if I will do this run again. If I do my Dad will be with me.  I will have his memory forever, and I will keep missing him. We didn't always have good times and the bad times were sometimes horrible, but I think I will try to remember all the good times.

Thank you Dad for the life I do have.  I  love you and I miss you.