"Freedom and responsibility we speak of easily, nearly always without recognition of the iron courage required to make them effective in our lives." j. glenn gray
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I awoke this morning to a torrential downpour slamming against the window and roof (I'm on the 3rd of 3 floors), the same reason I wheeled into this Comfort Inn last night around 2130hrs with the time gain. I made a clean 800 miles yesterday from Dahlgren, VA to Greenville, AL. Initially I was going to stop outside of Montgomery but after topping off with fuel I found I wasn't tired and figured on taking as big of a chunk as I could out of the distance between me and my wife and children. About 30 miles north of Greenville it began raining hard enough to pond on the road and render visibility to about 50 feet so I decided it best and safest to get a hotel for a shower, some sleep and a good breakfast.
When I pulled into the Comfort Inn at exit 130 in Greenville I pulled in behind a pickup displaying a 101st Airborne patch in the back window. Upon entry I met Gary Starr of Five Starr Steel proudly wearing his 101st Screaming Eagle ball cap. We talked for a while and exchanged some stories enjoying having met each other. It turns out that Gary was on his return to Texas from his Unit's Reunion in Hampton, VA. He departed and I then met Dottie, who was attending the evening desk. Dottie was super nice and had just gotten me checked in when Gary returned and offered to pay for my room for the night. Thank you very much Gary! I appreciate your kindness and generosity.
It did not take me long to get settled in and off to sleep in the super comfortable bed. I'm serious. Of all the hotels I've stayed in over the last few weeks the beds at Comfort Inn are the best, hands down. I awoke several times during the night anxious to be getting back under way. The Weather Channel radar is showing nothing but green along the entirety of my remaining route. I was hoping to make the last 400 miles in short order but I guess that is not to be. So I will take my time and continue to absorb all that has happened over the last few weeks.
Thanks again to all of our Wounded Warriors who courageously placed themselves in harm's way to protect the Freedoms we enjoy in our great Country. I will always remember.
Also, good luck to my good friend, Latseen Benson, who is attending the U.S. Paralympic Team event this week. Enjoy yourself and know that I am very proud of you, Brother! I'll be routing for you!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Up this morning with plenty of rest and I believe it is time to head for the barn. I had a good day yesterday hanging out with Scott. We went over to Fredericksburg and had some awesome bbq at Allman's then after a tour of the town we stopped in at Capital Ale House for some Brooklyn Brown Ale and hamburgers. It was an early evening as I wanted to get rested up for the drive home. Via the Interstate Highway system it is roughly 1200 miles from door to door. I'm hoping to make 600 miles per day and with the freeway it should be possible.
Again I would like to thank everybody who helped out along the way. In particular I want to thank Woody Groton and the folks at Wounded Warrior Project. This being my first go at such a mission the Wounded Warrior Project was integral in carrying out the plan and I appreciate them helping me out with advice, lodging and logistics. I want to thank Toby Nunn and Soldiers' Angels who provided the TerraTrike and hp netbook thus allowing me to actually make the ride and also to keep in touch with my family and all of you. Thanks to Anthony Mulheron for the B.O.B. Trailer, which allowed me to ride totally self contained. Thanks go to the New Jersey State Police for the escort and the Fire Department New York City for taking such great care of me while I was in New York. Thanks also to all of you who provided gear, discounts on merchandise, assistance, meals, lodging and encouragement to successfully complete the mission.
Lastly, but certainly not in the least, I want to thank all of our Military Service Personnel without whom none of this would be possible. Thanks to their voluntary service to our Country we are able to travel freely without fear of taking small arms fire or being blown up by an IED. Every Freedom we enjoy is directly credited to those valiant Men and Women who choose to place themselves in harm's way. I will always remember this and will keep Them in the forefront of my heart and thoughts.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I just can't say enough what a great journey it was all together. I saw some beautiful countryside and met some really great people. It is my honest wish that our mission was more successful than just a 1,642-mile bicycle ride from Houston, Texas to New York, New York. I hope that our efforts raised awareness of the fact that we, as a Nation, are at war right now; that we, as a nation, have Service Men and Women in harm's way right now protecting the Freedoms which many take for granted everyday. I hope that we raised awareness to the fact that we have over 31,000 War Wounded who need, and rightfully deserve, our continued support to make the transition from the battlefield back to civilian life. Their lives are forever changed but their quality of life need not suffer as a result of their sacrifice.
Yesterday was a strange day all the way around. I got packed up in short order as has been the norm for the last month. It is amazing how little we need to actually survive... our marketing engineers are doing a fantastic job, eh? At 1230hrs Cpt. Flaugherty gave me a ride from Ft. Hamilton over to Manhattan and, after a little difficulty at the UHaul office, I managed to get a truck secured. Cpt. Flaugherty & I wished each other well and he returned to his duties as a New York Firefighter, the best Fire Department in the World if you ask me.
I then pulled up Google Maps on my PDA, took a deep breath, pulled out into New York traffic and promptly got totally lost! Google Maps is great if you have a navigator! It was way too difficult to try and read the little screen, watch street signs, watch traffic and safely operate a vehicle without running over the multitude of pedestrians, cyclists and scooters. I felt like a real goombah trying to figure out where the heck I was. With all the tall buildings there is no horizon from which to get a bearing and I felt like rat in a little maze, which returned my thoughts to Douglass Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I did a fairly good job of not panicking... :0) Somehow I ended up going through a tunnel and ended up in New Jersey. Trying to return the kind and friendly gentleman (bit of sarcasm there) in the little booth simply stated, "you can't go through here... you gotta use the Lincoln." When I tried to ask directions he promptly told me to shut up and pull over to the right. Then he radioed some other kind and friendly soul and simply said, "UHaul." Then a little gate opened and I pulled around to the right finding myself behind a shopping center with absolutely no idea where the hell I was. So, I pulled up Google Maps again and after a little guess work I headed south along the Jersey shoreline back to the Varazzano Bridge... luckily the Jersey side has few tall buildings and the Varazzano was gleaming on the horizon. Adding only about 5 miles to my trip back to Ft. Hamilton to recover my TerraTrike, B.O.B. and gear, I made it back at about 1400hrs.
I loaded my gear and wished the staff at the Hamilton Inn all the best. They treated us really great during our stay and are super friendly and professional. Then I rolled over to the c-store to top off with fuel and get some Mt. Dew and sunflower seeds for the ride to Dahlgren. I managed to find my way back over the Varazzano and, after getting robbed of $22 by another kind and friendly gentleman in a little booth, found my way to HWY 1 South and began my long ride home at about 1530hrs. I made Dahlgren at around 2100hrs and enjoyed an evening telling Scott about my adventures in New York City.
Today I'm going to hang out here and visit with Scott as we don't get to see each other too often these days. Tomorrow I will top off the tank and make way for Houston via our Interstate Freeway System. I'm sure the ride won't be quite as nice as cruising along the old State Highway system through small towns and picturesque countryside but, this rider wants to get on home to his family.
After 30 days on the road I am excited to return home to my loving Wife and children. I thank all of the Troops and their families for the sacrifice they make in chunks of 13 to 15 month durations. It was difficult enough on my family to navigate this single month and I understand how truly difficult it is on Military families to be apart for so long. Again, thank you all for your sacrifices... you know who you are.