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.
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?
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 start.....so sleep is important. I feel like I've been on the road for more than one day....lol....
The next day is another adventure...
Keep the Shiny Side Up!
~The Rainbow Wahine