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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Night at Eagle's Nest

Last year, our stop was at Angelfire. To "spread" the rider's money around, it is my understanding that the Run for The Wall tries to select different towns on the route. I think there are other factors as well, but I don't think I'm privvy to them. I'd be guessing that the small towns that the Run stops in might place a burden upon them--especially for the towns that put up dinners and the like. I have no idea how the fund raising is done.

I digress.

Anglefire holds a special place in the Run's heart. I've said time and time before, there is a Memorial in Anglefire--built by a local doctor and his wife that lost their only son to the war in Vietnam. It is an amazing place and quite humbling. There are no words to describe it.

There is a ceremony at the Memorial. While I am not a Veteran, my life is touched by many Vets. My dad was a Korean War Vet and my son's dad is a Vet of Desert Storm and the War on Terrorism. While I'm not a direct casualty of war, my family was square in the target of conflict; the subsequent breakdown of my family was due to post-traumatic stress--and it tore my family apart. I've since recovered, but still, I am one of the many faceless families that never really gets talked about as a casualty. I didn't lose a life--but losing and rebuilding a family was traumatic nonetheless.

Again, I digress. This isn't about me. The ceremony is quiet and humbling. What I know is that this is a special place. It gives me goosebumps everytime I think of what I've seen.

The ceremony ends and the folks gather to head down to the village of Angelfire. The town puts together a dinner and feeds the riders in the run. The dinner was the first time I had to meet the crew of "Flying Thunder, Flight to the Wall 2008". Volunteers of the Wings and Rotors Air Museum worked to get three Hueys to ride with the Run riders. The flight that was to cover 5,000 miles over 16 states with a cost of over $300,000. The trip was to commerate the 40th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. The logistics of the flight were incredible obstacles--fuel range limited flights to 90 minutes and required manditory manitenance after every 20 flying hours. Not to mention the chase vehicles carrying oil and as many spare parts and tools that they could bring.

They did make it out to pay tribute to those lost to war and to keep the importance of accounting for those not brought back front and center...and yes, they made it back. For more information you can check out Flying Thunder. You can also read their stores at the Flying Thunder 2008 Blog.

With the dinner finished and visiting done, it was time to head out. A fuel stop before the half hour ride back to Eagles Nest. My friend Screamer leads, I'm riding wing and the sweep is Screamer's mom and dad. Not too much traffic or anything major (cue the dramatic "something is gonna happen music, please).

As we head down the highway, I see "something" in the middle of the road. What on earth is that, I think. I can't really tell....but mentally click over what it could possibly be...and then it moves. More like bounds off the highway....Oh my goodness, it is deer?

I wish.

Instead, I realize it's a rather large elk. I breathe a sigh of relief and say a small prayer that the very large animal bounded off the highway. I then take a quick peek to the side of the road where it ran and see....many, many, many more elk. Many pairs of green eyes looking back as we pass.

I pull up to ride abreast of the lead and flip my brights on. If there is a chance that there is something in the road, two riders side by side with brights will give us more visibility than riding staggered. I don't remember much of the ride back past that--all I know is that I was saying a very long prayer and promising that I would never do anything wrong ever ever ever...if I could get to the motel without anything happening to any of us.

Finally, we pulled in. Never mind the cold temps...I'll take freezing over playing chicken with an elk. I'd have lost.

We get in and attempt to settle in. My nerves are shot. I spent the next hour or so decompressing. It could have been much worse, I know.....but it's still scary.

Finally, sleep comes. We will have another early sleep is important. I feel like I've been on the road for more than one

The next day is another adventure...

Until then,

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Run For The Wall 2008--To Eagles Nest

Before we leave Espanola, we gas up. We've picked up to additional probs. We talk about the ride, the roads and get our warning about riding our ride. There are going to be twisties!! Whooohooooo!!! So while I don't get to ride in with the Run, I get to ride twisties. Makes up for it....almost!

The weather is still holding. Of course, it's only been about 20 minutes since our fearless leader pointed it out, so it's too early to expect anything. Talking with the new riders, I quiz them on their preparedness for mountain riding. Have they ever ridden in the mountains and did they have cold weather gear? I told them I was putting mine on--because I know what it's like to ride up at high altitude and we were headed there.

I have my layers on. While it's nice to have them when it's cold...well, it's not cold now!!! So I'm pretty much sweating...and on a hot motorcycle. Not the good kind of "hot" motorcycle either. I know that it will soon change, so off we go.

Not much to think about; I settle in the groove of enjoying the ride. We do start to climb in altitude and get into the twisties. Clouds are there. The music of my iPod gets ignored as I concentrate on riding.

There is a fair amount of traffic on the road. We are in a loose pack, so I'm not in a hurry. The leaders, however, want to ride rather aggressively. So they take off and somehow I end up leading. Not a big deal, by any means. Except I'm leading a bunch of folks that I know very little about and riding down a highway that I've never ridden.

Great. Now the pressure is on. Ah well, just concentrate on the road ahead...

As we climb in elevation, the temperatures drop. I'm glad I have my gear on. That's one distraction that I don't need right now. And of course, with twisties, there are also....bicyclists.

No, I'm not anti-bicyclist. I used to ride one as my main mode of transportation. All I ask is that they share the same respect for the other vehicles on the road. I don't like the ones that assume that I'm watching for them or think they have right of way just because they are on a bicycle. I still watch for them, however.

This time, it wasn't the bicyclist. As I am going around a blind curve, I see the bicyclist coming down the hill in the opposite direction. What I didn't see and obviously didn't see me was the big van that decided to pass said bicyclist in blind curve. And by passing, I mean, ride in my lane. I swerved and managed to get out of the way without getting hit. Boy, I did have the beejeebers scared out of me. I was too startled to really get angry...until I got down the road a bit. Uttering a few choice words and wishing that the idiot was close enough that I could give him an unedited rant of his decision...well, not really a good thing to be distracted with while I'm still riding the mountain pass.

I try to shake the whole thing off since I do not want to miss a turn and end up crashing, I press on. My fun for this ride has certainly come to a low. Miserable weather, missing the group to ride, and now this....grrrrrrrr......

Oh yes, and we never do get rain but it sure does get cold!! Yeah, I'm having fun...NOT!!

Finally, we get to Eagle's Nest. On the way down, we pass the Angle Fire Memorial. If you haven't been to the memorial, I suggest that you do. It's an amazing place to stop. As I pass it, I remember that the memorial was built by a father in rememberance for losing his son in Vietnam and has become a symbol of those lost to war. As much misery as I've felt these past few days, I think that it is insignificant to what those families endured. OK OK OK, attitude adjusted.

My little group disbands. I'm stopping for coffee to warm up. One of the riders in the group mentions my close call with big van. I respond that I wasn't too happy, but in the end, no riders crashed so it was a good ride.

My friend Speedo Jack meetup and we decide to hit one of the local watering holes for dinner and wait for the rest of the Run folks to show up. We get a chance to visit and hash the day out.

It's all good.

My friends pull in and we putz around until the official Run for the Wall Dinner at Angel Fire.

Oh, the ride isn't over yet....wait until you hear this one.....

Keep the Shiny Side Up....

~The Rainbow Wahine

The Day After the Rain....

Oh, errr...sorry about that, folks....the story does continue. I had to I did and now I'm still unpacking...sigh.

I was up bright and early the next morning...and the morning was BEAUTIFUL!!! Yippee!!! I was happy to be greeted with golden sunshine and out of that awful motel. It wasn't a big deal when I checked in...but checking out...go...go...go....

The facility was clean, it was just a "smoking room" being converted to non-smoking. As a non-smoker, I'm not sure if it will ever be up to my standards. Blech....

Okay, back to the story. I get up early and plan on meeting the group at Route 66 Casino. Not a very long ride--maybe 30 minutes tops. Unfortunately for me, I have no idea it is that close, so I'm at the meet site--two hours early. Not too convenient of a location to go shopping and besides, it is too early for anyone except perhaps Wal-Mart to be open. So what to do...what to do...

Well, after all, it's a I find a card table. Two hours pass rather quickly and while I wish I could say that I won, I broke even and was happy.

I took a peek outside and the Road Guard crew has pulled in. Cool. I should be able to find my friend Screamer fairly easily. After all isn't a six foot tall blonde on a purple Victory is easy to spot? She is and I find her busy directing motorcycles.

Since I missed registration that morning in Gallup, I find that I can't join the group. I'm a bit disappointed...after all, I took an extra day off from work to ride in with everyone, and find that I can't. Rules are rules, I know, and while I'm disappointed, there is really not much I can do. I do find another group of friends from Colorado Springs and they graciously invite me to ride in. Instead of following the main group, they've been riding behind the fuel group. So I'm in with a group of six or so and we are between the fuel crew and the main pack. It's all good.

Time to load up and off we go. Again, I'm disappointed for not being able to ride in with the Run. There is something ethereal about the ride. While it is a challenge to ride in a large group of motorcycles--side by side at highway speeds--and with folks you don't know--I'd say it isn't that--exactly. I think it's more the reasons why the riders are there. The cameraderie and acceptance of the riders who all understand that this is not only a recognition ride, but it is also a mission. The feeling is an amazing one and I think I'm not doing a very good job of explaining it.

Nonetheless, we are out on the road. The weather is gorgeous, I didn't lose all my money at the casino and I'm with friends. What more can I ask for?

Of course, when someone asks that question, it's always a warning of things to come, lol. Like bad weather, perfect weather doesn't last either. However, I'm not complaining--yet.

Get on the bike and ride. Destination: Espanola. It's a fairly straightforward ride and I will say that I was glad for the break. This is what the joy of riding is all about. We pull into Espanola. Our lunch stop is at the Espanola Veteran's Memoral Wall. My thanks to the Sangre De Cristo HOG Chapter and Santa Fe Harley Davidson for feeding us!!

After lunch, there was a short ceremony. It was really wonderful to see the many children of the community attend the ceremony. It was especially touching to see all the youth talking and thanking the many veteran riders for their service to this great nation. I get still get goosebumps remembering the scene.

One of the riders in my group hunts me down and points towards the mountains......

The big ominous black cloud. We have to beat that cloud he says....

This cloud is seriously large and black enough to that we leave before the road guards do. Hmmmm...

Our destination is Eagle's Nest by way of Taos and Angel Fire. I remember saying a small prayer, "Please let the weather hold until we get through Flechado Pass."

And of course, another day for another story. I promise that you won't have to wait three months for it either...

Until tomorrow....

Keep the shiny side up!!

~The Rainbow Wahine