Cheyenne VA Medical Center – Cheyenne, Wyoming
The sun rises later and later.
We bid farewell to our Brother Rick Dyer, The Lion, of Livingston MT. As I write, he should be home having dinner with his lovely wife, Carol.
Our ride began straight into the blaze of a giant morning sun that crept into another crystal blue sky. Sharp dark shadows stretched out from the front and rear tires of each riders bike, and swayed slowly to the right and left as they swept through turns and curves. That was the best of it. The temperature began at 28 degrees, and through the day across 360 miles, it didn’t change much, but the weather did.
Most riders, like myself, dressed for the extreme with everything they had to stay warm and dry. Body heat stuck with me for about a half hour, and as I looked to riders ahead and behind, I admired their commitment and sense of adventure. I’d freely give any of them the shirt off my back, but my heated liners would take some persuasion!
Within the hour, we rode under a heavy band of cloud, and then it cleared at our gas stop in Rock Springs. The police, sheriff, and fire departments were together as our escort through town to flag line at the Archie Hay American Legion Post 24. For the past three years, or so, Mike and Kat Tipton, WY State Coordinators, arranged a hearty breakfast brunch; scrambled eggs and hash browns, thick country bacon, biscuits and gravy, and a selection of fruits.
Our morning meeting followed with an unknown as to restrictions at the Cheyenne VAMC. Since we will not be allowed inside, the weather will be the factor.
Wayne shared wise words, as usual, with the point being that as we improve our relationship with Jesus, we make a difference not only in our life, but in the lives of others.
The morning tribute was to Army Staff Sgt. Joshua “Zach” Beale, 32 years old, He was killed during combat operations during his third tour in Afghanistan. He leaves behind a wife and two children. Zach is not forgotten.
While a snow squall blew through town, we had time to check out the club next door. A very long wall presented artifacts, mementos, and items from WWI and WWII. Ceiling tiles were photos of veterans of those wars, with the NVAR banners among them.
It might have been 38 degrees for our departure, but that was not relevant, as most riders were toasty warm in todays wired riding apparel and heated grips. (Back in the day, truck inner tubes for leg covers and newspaper for jacket insulation did a lot less and a lot cheaper.)
From the gas stop in Rawlins, we rounded what was visible of Elk Mountain. The low clouds had most of it covered, and the wind wasn’t too awfully bad, or we’re just getting used to it! Somewhere out there, we blew through a bit of sleet, but only enough to say we did.
East of Laramie, we roared up the snow covered pass like we owned it. The winds picked up and our trail to Cheyenne looked, ominous. Our escort waited about 10 miles out of Cheyenne, with support for clear passage to the VAMC.
The weather was not fit for the fair or faint, or veterans with guarded health, but it was just fine for riders on the NVAR. We rode around the parking lots and made a lot of noise to let them know we were there. We will expect better next year. In the meantime, Mike and Kat will give a bag of ride pins and post cards from kids to a director to pass on the the veterans.
Steve “Babyface” Wiseman joins us this evening. Glad to have him back on the ride.
As you’ve read, or not read, I have no contact time with veterans to report. This pandemic and its lockdown continue to plague the nation. We hope it passes soon.
The fine members of VFW Post 1881 prepared a fine dinner to finish our blustery day of travel.
Thank You & Never Forget – Mike (Track) Rinowski