Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Its About THE RIDE!

Dale sportin' a new do!
Anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle of ANY kind make model color manufacture knows what those words means.  Its like understanding why pilots fly planes, or why race drivers race, only in this case, to me motorcycling isn't just some hobby you spend a few hours a week at.  Its more than a religion, its more than a profession, or a career.  There are those who say that riding is like going to church, only more important.  I happen to think its deeper than that.  Unfortunately, however, sometimes I forget that, and sometimes it takes a life changing event for me to realize how important that I spend each day riding my Harley and spend some time praying, which, as it happens, I do both at the same time. As for that life changing event, becoming a grandpa might just fit that bill.  At my age I wasn't really mentally prepared to accept that role, but things change!!

Freedom Rock 2012
A few weeks ago I took my yearly trek to Freedom Rock, located in western Iowa. And, as usual, the artist who paints that rock every year did another supremly awesome job on it this year.  I needed the time away to digest the new role I had taken on.  In life every day is a day of change, of new adventure, and mine is no different. Being a grandpa takes dedication, love, and patience.  I needed to spend some time riding to come to terms with it all.  The ride over was peaceable, quiet, perfect weather.  Made my usual stop for a juice and a quick run to the restroom. Opting to take a more direct route over, I knew the route well, and knew what traffic would be like.  On this day there were many visitors, unlike more previous visits.  A Korean veteran, a former machinist mate on a destroyer, several Vietnam Era veterans, all coming to this place in remembrance of those who have made the "ultimate" sacrifice. Then there were those guys on their Harleys.  Some beautifully customized, while others showing the look of a hard ridden machine.  Each coming for their own reasons, and each saluting the Flag as it flew over our heads. Its a wonderful place for veterans to come and give thanks to the fallen, or just to remember the sacrifices each veteran has made in serice to our country.  It may not seem like much, but to a veteran this place is revered.
This side pays respect to the
Sullivan Brothers, from
Waterloo, Iowa

The ride back was anything but boring.  As with any trip on a motorcycle, you make decisions on what your route may be on the fly, and I soon found myself completely lost in the middle of Des Moines.  No need to ask for directions, right? I quickly turned around after realizing that I was not in the most friendly of neighborhoods! To my displeasure, however, I would be forced to take the main highway around town, and ended up stopping for gas just east of Des Moines.  I refueled, grabbed a quick cold drink, and headed back to home.  I took a quick shortcut home, and although I was tired, I had an absolute blast.  I had been to a place held in high honor had met many veterans, and had taken my own time to give thanks for those who have died in service to our country! 

Flag Line for Welcome
Little over a week ago, I took another ride.  I am a Patriot Guard member, and I believe strongly in the mission of the Patriot Guard.  On this day we would be escorting a soldier returning home from Afghanistan to his home about 20 miles away. Again, I took stock in what I was about to take part in, made sure my machine was clean and ready, and left for the airport.  As we met, I noticed some of the familiar faces in our bunch.  Its always nice to have familar faces to ride with, because you can feel more comfortable riding with them.  Newer folks take some time getting used to, and as we tend to ride in formation, my safety AND theirs is paramount. We did our preride briefing, and headed up to the terminal. As we lined up at the gate and presented the colors to this new hero, I realized many folks watching this event just didnt realize what all the excitement was about, and some simply do not care. What a shame that anyone who lives in the U.S. cannot pay simple respect to a returning soldier. 

Cpl. Cole Passick
receiving a PGR flag
Our escort began in the heat of the day.  Temperatures approaching 90 on a motorcycle makes it even hotter, but today I had hydrated enough this wouldnt be a problem.  Most of the escort went safely excepting for a guy in a green Jeep Gran Cherokee who tried to slash his way with his car thru our escort processional, right at ME! Thankfully, I was among friends, who recognized what was happening and were able to give me the room I needed to avoid trouble.  Later one friend remarked that I had done a masterful job of avoiding a collision, but in the end it was the teamwork of friends that paid off.  The ride back home was uneventful, but as I shook this young Marine's hand, a Corporal Cole Passick, I gave thanks for HIS service, but realized he was younger than my oldest daughter Jesse, and yet served honorably in a place where being an American is a bad thing.  My ride home was uneventful, but I reflected on the days events, and said my little prayer "Thank God I am alive" as I pulled into the garage.

For me, riding isnt just about one thing.  Its about life - my life! The ride of life can be bumpy at times, even tragic.  Or, it can be wonderful, peaceful, and filled with love.  Each day I give thanks that I am alive, and that I am able to love others, to enjoy the fruits of my labors.  Times around my house are tight right now, and some days are harder than others.  We all have those struggles.  Each day I ride my Harley "passionately", and each day I find more passion in my riding.  Riding isnt just about a Harley - its about life.  Whatever is your "ride" is, do it with passion, because life is all about the RIDE! 

My Uncle Ron and I - thanks for riding with me Uncle!

Peace & Love Everybody!