Well we are in Corpus now, and I wish I was as poetic and as good a wordsmith as my memories want me to be, oh well.
Today was one of the best so far as I am concerned, it had a great start, and inspiring middle, and a restful end. What a way to begin the close of an awesome trip.
This morning we woke up at the dove hut, all before dawn? Not sure how that happened but I guess we were all looking forward to a great day. Priscilla had left fruit, juice, and left over brisket and bread for us. So we had a good breakfast to get us going and get the camp packed up and cleaned up. At 8 Priscilla came rolling into camp with ken in tow to take us to meet the WWP at veterans memorial park in Beeville. The Ride was to meet at 9am and start at 10am. But when we got there at 9 only the police and the VFW were there. The WWP was running a little late, but no surprise when you consider all the warriors had done the day before. Shortly after we arrived the corvette club of Corpus Christi arrived and announced that they would be escorting us to Portland, the planned end of the days journey by bike. All were vets and many had their Vettes painted in veteran themes, they all looked assume.
A little after 10 the warriors arrived, with expectation written on their faces, and most roaring to go. All except Kevin who was not feeling well, but insisted on at least riding out of the park to respect those who came to honor him? So a couple of us got him some ice for his head and helped him get into his hand cycle, ready to ride. All the others were quickly readied and with salutes from the VFW, and with police and corvette escort we began our planned 45 mile ride about 1.5 hours late. Kevin’s planned ride out of the park then stop quickly changed to “a little further” so he could get past the horded of screaming kids at a local elementary school, talk about courage, persistence and pride, he was truly amazing. But what was even more so, was how those kids cheers boosted all their moral and insistence on going on, even Kevin, suffering as he must have been road on through town and out the other side, where reluctantly, and after being sick again, was convinced to dismount his bike and take a ride in the van.
They day quickly became hot, and the long flat road let a head wind push against the warriors and use, but all road on. Some fast, and some at a nice steady pace. I can’t imagine how those n hand cycles and recumbent suffered the heat not more than a few inches off the baking blacktop, chip sealed roads. But they all kept driving on. After about 10 miles the line was stopped for lunch, sandwiches, chips and Gatorade for most. A few, Matt and Adrian for 2 didn’t want to eat for fear of cramping, they just drank. After lunch it was agreed to officially brake the group into the A and B groups to let the faster group hopefully finish the ride, the rest would ride until ~2 and them be picked up to make sure we got to the finish where another reception was waiting. But at 2 most wanted to keep riding, and in fact they went on to close to 3:30 before all but being forcefully loaded into the trucks and vans for the ride to finish into Portland. I had stayed with the hand cycles and for a second day they had gone 25 miles, truly inspiring. We were then escorted to within 1 mile of the finish. There they were off loaded and back on the bikes so they could proudly ride in to there welcome on their own power.
The turn out at Yummies in Portland was a sight to see. Hundreds of people waiving flags, the VFW had 1 giant flag they vets were proudly holding along the rode, and all the colors from each force on display. The FVW band was playing, and everyone was cheering. Once situated they played the national anthem, and each services song. Matt confided in me it brought tears to his eyes, and that he was embarrassed, but several of us told him we were also brought to tears by our pride, and emotions over what it means to us to hear it and see these warriors being honored. Once the formalities were over the warriors were inundated with visitors, well-wishers, and admirers, a truly proud American moment. After that is was free ice cream and packing of the vehicles for the end of our day. The WWP off the NAS Corpus Christi, Steve, Dave and Cliff to Dave’s Aunts, and Dad, Lari, Larry, and I off to our respective hotels for the night and a good night sleep…..Well after Steve, Dave, Cliff, Dad and I went down town for some great Mexican food, all crammed In my little truck. ….
I know this experience, these new friends, and old will never be forgotten. I look forward to tomorrows public ride, and an end to this adventure, but I know this will not end my memories, or renewed feeling to help these wounded warriors, it has so far been an unparalleled experience, and I already look forward to doing it again.. .