In route to meet the NVAR, Mike and I stopped for another photo at Johnny’s Bar in Hollister. Fortunately, at 8:30 a.m., they were closed – and we had front door parking. Gloria and Ruth took a moment from their morning walk to talk with us. Back on that fateful weekend, the 4th of July, 1947, young Gloria walked past Johnny’s each day without an offensive word heard – and then we were off.

Thirty riders; veterans of Vietnam, Mid-East, and Afghanistan wars, along with era vets and their supporters, departed on May 14, from Auburn CA for a ten day ride to Washington D.C. Our mission was to visit homes and hospitals to thank veterans of past and present wars, lay wreaths at cemeteries and memorials, and welcome back Gulf War vets with a medal of recognition. The daily schedule started at 5 a.m., pack the bike, eat, ride, visit, ride, visit, ride, eat, ride, visit, ride, visit, ride, eat, social time, and finally, sleep. No wonder I’m so late with this blog and photos – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The sun burned across Nevada, my heated liners warmed me across Wyoming, and the winds knocked all of us around Iowa – there was not a dull mile. The birth of summer laid out across Indiana and all points east without even a sprinkle on us. We now have one more day to D.C.

We returned to visits that have been made since the NVAR began in 2005. Familiar staff and veterans welcomed us at each. Police and local Motorcycle Clubs provided escort service and joined in celebrations. American Legions, VFW’s, and AmVet Clubs set up breakfasts, lunches, and dinners – that stack up more like feasts. Along our pilgrimage, riders join the run, and tomorrow we’ll roll into Washington with over seventy bikes.

Photos below speak volumes of each moment and more will follow.

Biker Birthplace in Hollister 6 Mikes, 3 Docs, 3 Tonys A SEAL salutes our departure Freedom Rock Randy Knight - 2014 Ride Dedication to him Lt. Commander Richard Willis, WW II Navy Tom w:Jim Mongo w:Family, and Brothers names on Mid-East Wall Meeting the kids Spyder-Childhood friend of Danny Bruce - Medal of Honor Recipient Thanks to a Vet Pack Forward Pack Behind Mug shot Riders CA to D.C.

Two weeks away from the computer has been  – pleasant. Now it’s time to entertain you with tales of my travels – Across America in the Spirit of Freedom.

On May 1, the weather was perfect for duck hunting; cold, rain, and relentless wind – the heated liners proved their worth for my departure. At the far end of South Dakota’s prairie, I met Jim Burgess, owner of Black Hills H-D in Rapid city. While service made minor repairs, and threw on new brake shoes and topped off the oil, Jim and I shared mutual views, concerns, and respect in the comfort of their lounge. On a farewell, my wallet was not allowed out of my pocket. It was late in the day, but I stopped at a recommended Sturgis bar for a burger and a Bud, and was not allowed to remove my wallet there either – more kindness to share down the road.

A lot of space laid out across Wyoming. At dusk, I was lucky there wasn’t a fourth deer around the curve. By 10 p.m., 280 miles laid behind me and my camp in Worland. In morning sunshine, I rolled over snow covered passes, then into Jackson Hole. It’s actually a valley that sinks four times faster then the Grand Tetons rise; but their clock runs on a geological timescale – grand spectacles, nonetheless.

For those fond of wide open space, I would recommend anyplace along highway 20 in south Idaho. The scenery projects an otherworldly landscape, so much so, that NASA tested vehicles in the 750,000 acres of crinkled lava in the Craters of the Moon National Monument. The town of Carey sits on its north side, and the good people offered their fairground for my camp site. In Oregon, highway 26 climbed into pine covered mountains along wide fertile valleys. A side trip led deep into the scent in search of a Lewis and Clark Trail, but mud and snow on the track turned me back. Farther on, one of Oregon’s classics pulled up at a gas stop. The 318 cubic inch engine roared true in the 1970 Dodge Charger – a General Lee model. But, it will soon blow away competition with a 429 Hemi engine.

From the town of Sisters, the trail twists off the mountains. Had it not been raining, I would have enjoyed the piney scenery much more. In Veneta, west of Eugene, Roger, and his wife, Ellen, welcomed me to their home for a couple nights. Roger and I met in 2009 while I lived in a resort out in the rice paddies of Vietnam – and a nice home it was too. On my next visit, I will look forward to ride on our Fat Boys, or salmon fishing. A short ride from there brought me to Aunt Martha and Uncle Bob’s, and out to cousin Kari’s home in the wilderness – where her goats, donkeys, and cats guard the yard. Then my direction turned onto the Redwood Highway into California.

Thankfully, the rain slacked off for a quiet stroll through the Avenue of the Giants – some of the largest and oldest trees on earth – one of the most serene and humble places for a walk. The next day, I met up with Mike, another buddy I met in Vietnam. Of all places, we met up at Johnny’s Bar in Hollister. In 1947, a group of motorcycle riding WW II veterans, known as the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club, along with their wives, girlfriends, and other riding enthusiasts, arrived for the 4th of July jamboree. The bash was ‘almost’ news worthy, and to fix that, the media fabricated and exaggerated – mayhem sold in those days too. But, it was the birth of the American Biker, and Hollywood drove a fear of them into the heart of the American public.

Johnny’s owner, Charisse, entertained Mike and I with some of its rich biker history, then we were off to, Howie’s, a friend of long standing. Along with his collection of music, he cares for, and turns a few records he keeps for me. The weekend of tunes resulted in a lot of recyclable aluminum. On Monday morning we bid farewells and rode off to meet with the National Veteran’s Awareness Organization for the Run to the Wall in Washington D.C.

Blogs of the Run will follow.

 

1 - Jim at Black Hills H-D

10 - Jim & Ellen 13 - The Pacific 16 - Big Tree 22 - Breakfast w:Howie & Mike 14 - Elk 7 - Idaho20 - w:Charisse Owner of Johnny's Bar
9 - Lewis & Clark Trail
3 - Grand Tetons

2014 KICKOFF

Greetings,

Spring has sprung.

Well, it did for many who rode their bikes to the Donnie Smith Bike Show in St. Paul last weekend. On Saturday, crowds packed the halls to gaze at all the fine rides – imaginations carry the competition to a new level. The Swap Meet and Hot Rod Show were no less for attention. On a 60 degree Sunday, the crowds must have been in church, or paying praise in the wind.

A late blizzard flirted with Minnesota on Monday to bring back chilling days of old. Covers lay over my boys, the Fat Boys in the garage. I’m anxious to ride, but in no hurry; says the old bull!

But come May, the ’08 and I head for California to join the National Veterans Awareness Ride, (NVAR) for the Run to the Wall – Rolling Thunder in D.C. I’m likely to budget for heated liners for my leathers. Gotta keep this old bull warm. From Mpls, on May 2 or 3, to the Black Hills, and perhaps through Yellowstone to Oregon it will get chilly.

I’ll visit an old friend in CA for a brew or two, and spin a few Lp’s from a large collection he cares for. Then, or sooner, I’ll meet up with Mike from AZ, who I met in a bar in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and introduced me to this ride. We met in Iowa for last year’s Run to the Wall. This year we go all the way.

The manuscript for Harley Tracks: In the Spirit of Freedom, improves with each re-write. Each day I relive the motorcycle adventure with an amazement to its scope, and that I lived to tell the tale. This summer it will go to a professional editor for a proper presentation. Come fall it’ll go to print.

I hope you like the new face and presentation of the web site. By way of coincidence I met a fellow, by way of a good deed, who does this sort of thing.

Once again, I’ll blog the Run to the Wall.

It’s not often I like to be followed, but for the cause, I invite you to return and join me, as I join others, to thank those who served and sacrificed for our freedom. Please refer to last years NVAR run in these archives for some history of a wonderful and humbling ride.

If you ride – ride safe in 2014

To all – enjoy the spirit & never forget.

Best Regards,

6gear

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I waited 60 years to visit New England. Now I’ve made two trips in four months. Upfront, the most unfortunate part was that it wasn’t done on two wheels. Nonetheless, it was a fun time.

Any travel in New England is a tour through history. Significant battle sites or events leading to our United States are at, or near – everywhere. On a beach 50 miles from Provincetown, 393 years after the Mayflower landed, we celebrated Ryan and Kristen’s Cape Cod wedding. We enjoyed clam chowder, lobster, and lots of drink; while those early settlers were happy with turkey and fresh water.

It was an opportune time to visit my friend, Peter, in Vermont, the 50th state I have visited. (It’s a weak technicality, but I once got off a plane in Anchorage, Alaska, while it refueled.) Peter is history literate and takes me to early battle grounds and old trappers routes. Nowadays, the mountains are infiltrated with ski lodges, golf courses, hiking and biking trails, and plenty of Harleys roll over it’s fantastic trails too.

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Summer Rides

I trust everyone is enjoying a good summer, warmer and dryer in some places than others, but enjoying the spirit none the less.

I’m not getting all the riding I did last year, or the year before that, but I’ve been out and about on some well attended memorial and appreciation rides. And, most of all, enjoying the unblemished highways of America. It’s great to see the highway department out there doing a fantastic job with upgrades and repairs. First off, on my return from a run across American, and Canada, in June, I paid final respects to my old friend Jim who lost out to the friggin Grim Reaper. You gave him a battle and pissed him off before going. RIP Jim.

Weekends to follow I laid tracks with a club up to the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation near Duluth MN for a Veteran Recognition and Appreciation Powwow. They put on a great event true to their culture for recognizing warriors. This was their 20th year for the Powwow. Close to a thousand people camped out to attend the event. 256 veterans were honored one by one. Drums pounded as songs and tales were shouted in their native tongue praising the spirit of the warrior. Throughout the day everyone joined in the traditional dances. It was a true and sincere show of respect from America’s first warriors.

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