A Hell of a Ride - A military retiree meets the country he defended.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Setanta ADV, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    It has that meaning too. It’s also a reference some people use for when someone leaves the “conventional” Army. Perhaps it’s the “dude” of the Army. Ha ha.
    #61
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  2. jwaller

    jwaller Been here awhile

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    Aha. And the haircut in the picture (or lack thereof?) should have clued me in a little better. Well, happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I hope you are enjoying weather as good as the weather I'm enjoying in Texas right now.
    #62
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  3. espacef1fan

    espacef1fan Long timer

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    Long hair don’t care!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    #63
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  4. gregfender

    gregfender n00b

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    Great story! Looking forward to reading more...love the premise of your filming. I'm retired AF, nothing glamorous, just played with JP8 for 20 years. Taught HS history for 12 years after that and now enjoying a 2nd retirement. A former exchange student of mine from Germany who is considered a member of the family is doing a couple of semesters in the US next year and we are planning a cross country trip in the summer...but not on a Duck!

    By the way, if your ever up in WNC and want to ride the Parkway, give me a shout. We're only 6 miles from The Linville Falls access to the BRP. Great riding around this area. Cheers!
    #64
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  5. The lone burro

    The lone burro Adventurer

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    I can relate. I use my trips to deprogram, the solitude does me good. My weapon of choice is a klr650, I go backcountry. If you want to film it put a little effort into your electronics. Good luck. Semper fi.
    #65
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  6. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    In! Congrats on your retirement and your dedicated service! Definitely an interesting choice and not one I expected but glad you picked the one you wanted and are doing exactly what makes you happy. Can't wait to read the rest of this.

    Where will you be publishing your film when done? I love the topic and am very excited to see it.
    #66
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  7. FlounderUSN

    FlounderUSN Adventurer

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    In. Will be following along this report. Thanks for taking the time to do it, hope it will help others with transitions back to civilian life as well. I feel your sentiments with frustrations seeing the news/social media/etc day in and day out. On my minimal travels I find that you are right in that being on a bike seems to make you more approachable and you do really meet some interesting and truly good people regardless of political/personal beliefs, we can all find mutual ground to get to know one another and be peaceful.
    Can't wait to do my own extended travel when I retire from the Nav in a few years.
    Go Navy, Beat Army!
    #67
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  8. jwc

    jwc Ready to go

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    :lurk
    #68
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  9. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    Thank you. I'll be putting together short videos focusing on just the travel part of the trip very soon and putting them on the video channel I have. It should be easy to find just by using my handle and spelling out the ADV part on most social platforms. I'll have to wait and see how the overall documentary film comes together before I lock down a distributor / plan. I'm actually getting support from Bryan Carroll, the director and producer of the film "Why We Ride". He's been giving me some advice with things and helping me out with some connections. I actually met up with him for a few hours during one part of this trip. Really nice guy.

    I'm happy to get the feedback from people here. It's good to hear what you all think about the most important part of this process: the story. It's very helpful to know what people think about this in the written word, before I even put any videos or film out. Thank you!
    #69
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  10. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    I appreciate that. Thanks for keeping the torch lit and taking care of all of us. Whether you're a team guy, or a fleet guy, I'm sure if you only have a few years left, the time will fly by. If you are one of those people who actually give a damn, it's hard letting go and letting somebody else take on the heavy lifting. That's the toughest part, not letting yourself feel like you're letting your team / etc down by saying goodbye and retiring. Make your plans and get ready to live the rest of your life!

    Army seems to be having a pretty good year, this year. I won't even send a jeer back. Navy will need all the support they can get! :clap
    #70
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  11. jettech01

    jettech01 Been here awhile

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    Funny you mention Prudhoe the way you do....Sanity is the question for the Masses, not the normal inmate around here, but I believe there are many inmates that still feel that
    There are bold riders, and old riders, but no old bold riders!!!.....:lol3 enjoy your ride my friend and as a military vet myself, thanks for your efforts, and be happy you are in a grateful country.
    :beer
    #71
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  12. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    I spent a good deal of my childhood in Alaska, so those memories alone tend to pull me in that direction. My father worked in Prudhoe for several years as well. I still have some family up in AK. With some personal context, a ride up there would be more like a homecoming than a foolish errand. Time will tell what happens, I suppose.
    #72
  13. jettech01

    jettech01 Been here awhile

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    Planning my own "Bucket List trip" to Prudhoe next summer if all works out as planned. Never been there is my reason. Now working out the demographics of taking a shotgun
    through Canada...(it can be done legally with prep) when camping in the bush I want everything i can take, to be safe from the four legged/pawed Animals wanting to relieve
    me of my life.....:lol3......:D
    #73
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  14. durtwurm

    durtwurm Talented Amateur

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    Yeah, ride what you've got and make it work! The weapon of choice on this thread is getting the job done.
    #74
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  15. durtwurm

    durtwurm Talented Amateur

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    I am a Viet Nam era vet and believe me we were not appreciated. Many posting here are vets. The bike tale is what interests me however. Nice ride report.
    #75
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  16. rauchman

    rauchman Been here awhile

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    Awesome!!! Thank you for your years of service and looking forward to this trip, rather your incredible trip of America on something other than the usual choice of bike to tour on. God speed, good luck and have a hell of a f*cking time!
    #76
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  17. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

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    Great RR + pics!

    :thumb

    Thanks!

    JM.
    #77
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  18. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    A Hell of a Ride – 5

    1 September 2017. The ultimate destination today would be an old battlefield, as would the starting point. I had unfinished business where I was. Because I was unable to complete my work the night prior, I still had to tour the battlefield where I was, or at least say that I walked on it. I would begin my day at the apex of the Revolutionary War, Yorktown, Virginia, and finish my day at the Apex of the American Civil War, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I would have liked to have started out early, but the Yorktown Battlefield center didn’t open until 9 AM. This would be a rushed day. First things first, I had to go through the tedious process of packing bags and making sure I didn’t leave behind any critical film equipment. So many cameras, batteries, computers, etc. needed to be charged, that I would find many pieces of equipment I had brought with me could be expendable, but leaving behind my small hard drive with all the footage I would accrue would be absolutely catastrophic for the trip. A healthy paranoia would be required to prevent that. Today it worked. Nothing would be left behind. Packing the bags, removing immobilizers, and loading up Rexy, I prepared to depart from the motel. A quick check of the weather to see what the day had in store for me, showed that rain would begin in the area around 10 AM. Being transient, I hadn’t been paying attention to the local news reports, nor the local weather. This would be a little more than “just” rain.

    I had learned that getting on Rexy in her fully loaded mode required a little more technique than mounting your usual superbike. A front kick of the right leg, a double hop with the left, a swing of the shoulders to allow my pack to clear and settle, and we were ready to roll out. In the future, I would find that the comforts of some hotels would be difficult to leave behind. That was not the story today. Away we went. The few miles needed to reach the battlefield were quickly traversed, and I found myself passing through areas where American Patriots one occupied their breastworks and trenches, as they lay siege to the British Army; an area where I would soon be parking Rexy and taking hasty photographs. Bike backed in, kickstand down, I ungracefully dismounted the Panigale. As I prepared my camera equipment for use, one of my first visitors approached me, coming from a nearby tour group. “Whatcha got there?”, he asked. “It’s a Ducati”, I said. “Oh. I heard you coming and saw the red. I knew it was either a Honda or a Ducati.” I struggled to suppress that jerk in me who wanted to reply with something smart, and instead let the decent human being, who had only recently taken up residence in my body, to the talking. “No. It’s just a Ducati”, I replied. That was enough to allow a brief, but nice, discussion commence about motorcycles and touring. I began on of the traditions of this trip, which was to have the people I met along the way sign my helmet. If memory serves right, this gentleman was an Air Force veteran, and he was happy to be a brief part of the story. I wasn’t quite used to being on both sides of the camera yet, so I missed the opportunity for this signing photo.

    I needed to hustle though. 10 AM was rapidly approaching and I didn’t know how the rain would set in. Would it be sporadic, or cover a large area. This was the South, and I was used to the weather predictions being unpredictable. I quickly walked to the visitor center and learned that there was a fee required to go any further. I wasn’t inclined to pay a fee today, when I would be lucky to spend 30 more minutes there. I decided to hastily look upon whatever was in the immediate area. This was a great frustration to me. I love history, and particularly love walking the fields of historical battles. I once had the honor to be a part of a mass tactical parachute jump in to St. Mere Eglise drop zone in Normandy, France, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day. I probably had that stupid, mouth hanging open, look on my face the entire time I was there. Being a part of the 82nd Airborne Division, St. Mere was thought of as sacred ground. Here I was at the greatest battlefield victory of the Revolutionary War, and all I had the time for was snapping off a few insignificant photos and some quick video. At the best, I could say I had been there. Here are a few photos from the day.

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    A few drops of rain started falling, so I decided to check the radar again to see what was coming. I had only looked at the local area, and sure enough, there was enough precipitation coming down that the radar was able to track it. I had a long way to go, and the rain would only make the day longer. I needed to get going now so I didn’t have a repeat of riding through a rain storm at midnight so soon after my last experience, only three days prior. I needed to get moving. Now.

    The last bit of preparation I did before hopping on the bike, was throwing on my rain jacket. I didn’t worry about my legs today. After the soaking I took on my first day of the trip, I did something smart and zipped in the Gortex liner that came with my riding pants. Other than my hands, which were protected by Aerostich elk skin ropers, I was well prepared for whatever the day would throw at me. It’s a good thing I was. I made my way down the road, and on to the freeway, and the intensity of the rain picked up. I had only just begun this trip and I figured I needed to forget about comfortable riding if I was going to make the timelines and the destinations I had planned for. I put my head down and just got on with the business of putting miles behind me.

    Because I had been so preoccupied by my project and riding, I had failed to observe on important detail of the weather forecast. This wasn’t just your typical rain system that I was beginning to ride through. This weather system was rather notorious by this time. In fact, it was a system that had a name. Though not the brute it once was, it still carried a significant amount of clout. The weather system I was currently riding through was the storm, formerly known as Hurricane Harvey. Back down the road I went, through the lashing rain. Back through the D.C. area traffic, in the rain, and eventually through the suburbs. Rain. Hours of rain.

    I had my navigation set to “No Toll Roads”, and as a result, I often found myself being placed on rather interesting routes and finding towns I never new existed. This time, due to the heavy traffic in the D.C. area, as I arrived there, rather on sending me on a direct route, I was diverted well West of the normal high-speed traffic lanes. I’ll have to search further for where I even was, but the towns I came across were simply amazing. If you haven’t been to VA before, the country side is simply amazing. You can be surrounded by urban sprawl one moment, and the next moment, turn a corner and you would swear you’ve been sent back in history 150 years. It’s an amazing phenomenon. One I’m sure commuters to the D.C. area pay dearly for to maintain. Beyond the city fringes, this historic narrative becomes the norm.

    At one point, the navigation routed me off the state highway and onto a backroad. Realizing I was not on the typical “well beaten path”, I began to get that creeping feeling in the back of my head of “Where is this thing taking me?” Surely there must be a malfunction. This isn’t a normal route. Then, an epiphany occurred to me. “What does it matter?” I thought. I had nowhere to “be”, and as long as I arrived at my destination, the path I took to get there didn’t matter. A quick check of the state of my fuel showed I was OK for the time being, and I decided to continue down the road less traveled. The road continued to shrink, and I soon came upon the fringes of a small town. The instructions the navigation provided told me to take a left turn on “Main Street”. Doubt crept into my head again when “Main Street” was a gravel road filled with pot holes! Concern was rising, but at the same time, I felt a sense of awe as well. This wasn’t some representative town of a past era. People were living here, and business was being conducted, but it seemed like I was riding through the pages of history. At any moment, I was expecting a Colonial tradesman to step out of a building and into my path. I traversed the obstacle course of a road as well as I could, while fighting every urge I had to stop and explore this gem of a town. I had a destination to be at tonight and I couldn’t afford to stop. I had an awful long way to go, to get around the country, and if I stopped every time something caught my eye, I would never complete the trip. Regrettably, I rode on.

    The road traveled beyond this magical town was one of those winding country roads which the locals are able to fly down, and visitors fear for their lives on. So many wonderful twists and turns took me past farmer’s fields and local grazing cattle. The sky remained overcast, and despite the earlier rain, the day became perfect. I rode through several picturesque towns that day and marveled at the various ways and environments my fellow countrymen chose to live in. I loved it. Eventually, it was time to fuel up, and I pulled in to one of these towns, which was more modern, but maintained a rustic façade. Topped of, I reconnected with another highway system, crossed the Maryland border, and made my way to Gettysburg.

    “Riding through history”. That’s what I felt I was doing that day. It was mesmerizing. My impulse was to believe that I was doing something special that day, but the reality of the matter was that I was simply observing how regular people continue to live their average lives. They weren’t doing anything special or putting on a show for me, as I traveled past their homes. They were getting through a Friday, and preparing for the last holiday weekend of the Summer, Labor Day. That fact made everything that much more special for me and the task I had placed upon my own shoulders.

    I had never been to Gettysburg before, and had no idea what the lay of the land was. Most historical battlefields I had visited had consisted of a dedicated “battlefield” that was isolated and preserved for the visitors who walked the field to enjoy. It didn’t occur to me until I pulled into the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors center, after hours, that I had been riding through the battlefield for quite some time already. The entire town, and surrounding area of Gettysburg WAS the battlefield. The events and drama that had played out here on the 1st through 3rd of July, 1863, were nothing short of tragedy on a massive scale. Though it was after hours, and the light of the day was failing, I walked to the visitor’s center and picked a visitor’s brochure to use the map of the area that it provided and orient myself to the lay of the land. Such was the scale of the battle, and the number of critical engagements that were fought here, that any single one of them would be famous by themselves. Gettysburg was a collection of heroic acts that should have never needed to occur. As these thoughts played in my head, the needs of the day intruded. I sought out a local nearby hotel and made a quick reservation. Like Yorktown, I wouldn’t be able to walk the battlefield today. Though I had waited my adult life to get here, I would have to reconcile that my visit would only consist of a short time the next morning, before I was back on the road again.

    There was regret in that realization. The hotel I had chosen to stay the night in reflected those feelings. I spent the night near men who, though separated by more than a century, I had so much in common with. Absolute joy, abject terror, love and hate. Soldiers throughout millennia would be able to understand each other, the true meaning of those emotions, and how they can inexplicably be felt at the same time. As the light of the day faded, I looked over this wonder of modern technology to the final resting places of so many, and thought of the men who had risked their very existence, on this very spot, for the ideas of the day. Humbling, to say the least.

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    My dinner this night would be bar food at the local watering hole. I would draw the ire of a local peacock, who, full of liquid courage, didn’t like one of the local ladies whose attention he was vying for, engaging the stranger in her midst in conversation. Noting my role as observer, and not competitor, I navigated my way through the ritual without incident. It was all rather entertaining. I was living life. I was observing others living theirs. I was happy for it.
    #78
  19. BigDogRaven

    BigDogRaven Been here awhile

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    IN, thank you for your service sir!!
    #79
  20. Jim-Mer

    Jim-Mer Slowing Down

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    Setanta, there are lots of vets on this forum, my time was 3 years in the 101st a number of decades ago. I spent a long weekend in Gettysburg this fall, and felt that same emotional alliance with those that fought and fell there. it takes a few days there to really absorb what happened, and I encourage you to return when you have time to take a deep dive.

    Glad to see you got out on the road, spending time on the back roads and away from the major cities, where the "real" America is. When I retired a few years ago, on my first "big trip" I had a hard time slowing down to see things, and sometimes still do. It takes a conscious effort on your part to do so, but you will be greatly rewarded when you do.

    Sounds like you had a great ride, and I hope you found what you are looking for.

    Jim
    Canton, OH
    #80
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