May 25, Washington, D.C. – Well, it has begun. We were up at 5:15 and down to Heinz Field by 7:00 to join our HOG chapter for the run to DC. We gathered at the Vietnam Memorial for a prayer and blessing, then headed out of town.
We did not have a smooth start as the group of 16 bikes got separated at the first traffic light. I was taking up the rear since I have a GPS. The leaders of our pack didn’t know to go through the Ft. Pitt tunnel, so we ended up on Carson St. and the West End Bridge. At the light they called for help and I moved up front to lead us back to the Parkway West. We joined up with the others along I-79 south.
The day was beautiful and got warmer. We had rest stops for gas and lunch. At the second rest stop we ran into some trouble. Beth was leaned over the tank to check the nozzle. It slipped and she got a face full of gasoline. Paulette got a bottle of water and poured it on her eyes. The station owner was nice enough toe let Beth use the back room to wash off the gas. We had to clean the liner of her helmet as well.
The group went on while we got ourselves back together and composed for the remainder of the ride into DC. I have never been on the Washington Beltway when it wasn’t a zoo, but this time it was relatively tame and the ride down the GW Parkway was delightful. Crossing 6 lanes on I-395 was not fun, but we made it. Thanks to the Jeep driver wherever you are, who slowed and let Beth cut in front of him.
At the light just before our hotel, I looked back and noticed two bikes had joined us. They were from our group and hadn’t been able to make it all the way across the 6 lanes. They had stopped at the median and were trying to figure out what to do when Beth and I rode by. They recognized us and quickly zipped in behind us.
This is a long entry. I don’t promise to be this detailed every day.
We checked in to our hotel and went to dinner down the street at a nice casual restaurant, Freddie’s Beach Bar. We had a nice, light meal and made plans for the evening.
The Rolling thunder group planned to ride to the Mall for the vigil at the Vietnam Memorial. We decided to take the subway, since we were pretty tired. So we found the subway stop, just a couple of blocks away. We got off the subway stop and walked to the vigil. Then we walked to the Korean and WW-II memorials, past the Washington Monument, and on to the Smithsonian stop. We hit the showers and were asleep in seconds.
I was struck today by the friendship of the HOG members. They rushed to Beth’s aid and throughout the day found ways to laugh. We’ve been members of the chapter for only a year and a half, but they have welcomed us warmly.
Also, I really felt the power of the war memorials. Seeing them at night is very different from daytime. The lighted features stand out vividly. But being there with veterans and families was even more moving. Long-haired, biker-types stood near the statues to take group pictures. You could see in their faces they were thinking of friends who could not be there in the pictures with them. Older mothers, similar in age to my mother, took the arms of younger, stronger children to walk in procession and remember the sons they lost. People still mourn the losses and keep alive the memories and will until they pass away.