Doug's RFTW 2015 travel blog

Leroy's first shop visit of the trip. Pomona Valley Harley


Selling Leroy's pins and patches in Ontario

Tribute to a fallen comrade

Departure meeting

Departure 2

Departure 3

Departure 4

Departure 5

Departure 6

Firstg accident 30 miles from start

Lunch stop at Needles, CA

Needles 2

Needles 3

Needles 4

Needles 6

9/11 Memorial in Winslow, AZ

Winslow 2

Winslow 2, First pic of Leroy and I

Winslow 3

Parade thru Gallup, nm

Red Rock Park, Gallup

Gallup 3

Gallup 4

These past 4 days have been just a whirlwind of activity. I left off the previous entry going to sleep in Palmdale, CA. That night, at 1:30am, my phone starts ringing. Now, you know that that can't be good. All sorts of terrible possibilities went through my mind in the seconds it took me to find my phone and answer it. The short of it was that my Medal of Honor guy, Leroy, had bike troubles coming into L.A. and was hoping that I could pick him up in Glendale at 9:45am. So I said that I could do that and hung up. Well... not much sleep the rest of the night.

At 930 the next morning (day 4) I was at the appointed location and finally met Leroy Petry for the first time. He told me that he had started the bike (it's really a 3-wheel trike) and it seemed to be running OK so he wanted to ride into Ontario on his own. Only 40 miles. About 3 miles down the freeway the motor conked out so I loaded him into the trailer and we took the trike to Pomona Valley Harley. We dropped off the trike and went on to the host hotel in Ontario. There I met up with Sandy and Mike Piazza (niece and husband, Steve and Cindy Prater (nephew and wife), Gary Taylor ( the Marine I roomed with on the run in 2014), and, finally, Barbara Montoya who is the Medal of Honor Coordinator whom I had been talking to while this was all being set up. Barbara had called ahead to PV Harley to alert them that we were coming and to put Leroy's machine at the top of the schedule. (Barbara has a way of making things happen). Leroy kept getting updates on his repairs and we were able to pick it up about 4pm. The problem had been some faulty wiring in the modified throttle controls. Leroy rode back to the hotel without problem. I was able to meet up with the niece and nephew bunch for beer and dinner. At least we spent a little time together. btw... the niece and nephew bunch were doing the southern route again this year so once again I was only able to spend a short time with them in Ontario before we split up at departure.

The next day (5) was busy with meetings and talking with friends from last years ride. Last minute packing and repacking and shuffling stuff between back seat and the trailer, etc. Lights out about 11pm.

Day 6 began with final packing, loading and getting to the departure meeting before 645am for ceremonies, prayers, speeches, and more meetings. The first group out was the Midway Route at about 715am. Then the Southern Route left about 740am and we (the Central Route)headed out at 800am. Our group left with 309 registered riders. The other 2 groups were slightly smaller but in total between 800 and 900 riders left for D.C. with a common mission. We ride for those who can't and we want the nation to never forget our veterans and the MIA/KIA from all the wars and conflicts. Our route took us East on I-10 then North on I-15. Just over the top of El Cajon Pass an accident occurred. A trike towing a small trailer lost control and flipped over. 2 more trikes with trailers piled into him. 6 riders out with 4 of them transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The rest of the day went without incident with lunch in Needles provided by the Chamber of Commerce and some local businesses. On to Williams, AZ where dinner was provided by the American Legion Post 13. And at each of our stops there are more ceremonies and speeches. We all (the RFTW group) are always sure to THANK our hosts for the wonderful hospitality and warm reception we get. Much different than the 'welcome home' we DIDN'T GET when we returned from Vietnam.

Day (7) began with wiping down the bikes that got rained upon during the night. For me it was just turn on the wipers :=). We're on I-40 now headed East. We did a parade through Winslow, AZ with a short stop at their 9/11 memorial then on to Holbrook, AZ where we drove by every school in town. At each school all the kids were out on the sidewalk cheering and waving flags for us. This is where the sunglasses really start leaking and I was diving into the tissue box again. The parade ended at the American Legion Post 37 where we were served our first pulled pork of the trip. I mention this because I expect we will be served pulled pork several more time in the next few days. After lunch we headed out for Gallup, NM. About 30 miles from Gallup Leroy's trike began acting strange again so he tapped out and pulled to the side of the highway. Unfortunately, when I spotted a rider waving for help I was in the left lane passing some slower vehicles. Chase 3 saw an opening and hit the brakes and pulled to the shoulder. I was unable to safely get over there and since Chase 3 had it covered I continued on to Gallup. Chase 3 and I communicated to me that it was Leroy that had been picked up. We met at the Red Rock Park where we transferred Leroy's trike into my trailer. Calls were made to a repair shop in Albuquerque and an appointment was made for 800am in the morning. We were able to enjoy at least a part of the Navaho ceremony at Red Rock before checking onto the motel for the night. We agreed on a 6am departure in the morning.

Sorry this entry was so LOOONNNNG but I did start by saying it had been a busy 4 days. I'll try to make my entries more frequent and not so long. The photos I have added are in order and should be fairly self explaining. That's the end of day (7).

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