They made it

[With a special dedication to my Dad ***]

Since I left the ‘Run for the Wall’ ride from LA to DC *, I have been thinking about the riders each day and praying for their safety. And whenever I could find a wi-fi connection, I’d follow virtually by reading the blog of one of the riders and road guides – Retired Sergeant Major Doug Lyvere.

Each day Doug wrote a piece about the day – about the riding, the road conditions, and the supporters who came out to cheer on the riders and pay their respects for those who served. He also wrote about his emotions as memories were brought back by specific events, such as the laying of wreaths at local Veteran memorials.

You can follow his route (the southern one of the two) and his day by day accounts at his blog http://www.w5blt.com/2010RFTW

On day 11, he wrote about the group as they gathered in Arlington and the quietness that descended as they visited the Wall this past Saturday May 29th. It’s a particularly moving piece, so take out your tissues or handkerchief ahead of time, and read his writings at http://www.w5blt.com/2010RFTW/Day11.htm

What’s also remarkable about Doug’s blog is that a man named Bob Prater wrote up Doug’s relayed messages each day and put them on the internet, because he could not ride this year. Not remarkable really though, is it? It’s one more example in the line of hundreds, of the comradeship that shines through when you meet these guys, and of the bond that kept them going in times of war and keeps them going still today.

Please don’t go before reading Bob Prater’s piece at the end, A final message from your webmaster

Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly if you read Doug’s day by day accounts, I had to leave the Run for the Wall after day two. The heat and pace across Arizona and southern New Mexico were too much for my old 1971 VW engine.  After the gruelling ride of just two days I can see that major planning is required to make sure you have a vehicle up to the job. It would be worth every bit of the planning. To thank those that served is an honor  ….. and to commemorate those who were prisoners of war or missing in action is hugely important.

Hopefully next year I’ll join the 23rd RFTW and who knows, it might be on a bike (motorbike).

*** As I write this, it’s Memorial Day here in America and for the first time I would like to express my thanks to my late father, Frederick Lane (born Giannandrea), for his service in WWII and for my freedom today.
Thanks Dad.

If you’d like to thank someone special, please add your comments below.

Into the desert – track the Run for the Wall riders

THANKS FRIENDS for all your good wishes for my drive to the east coast and for all those on the Run for the Wall 2010 ride to Washington DC.

Early today I filmed 500 bikes leaving the departure point in Rancho Cucamonga in California, east of LA. The emotion of this event is so huge that it brought tears to my eyes.

It was the last time I’ll see everyone together in one group for next ten days. There are two groups taking two routes from now on. We’ll meet up again in DC a week Friday , God willing.

Please check out the official website for the central and southern routes and the stops along the way. Apparently people come out to wave and cheer and at some points there are 100s of people on bridges over the highway. Special events are planned by local schools and communities across country to show their respect and appreciation for the servicemen here on this ride and those left behind.

If you are anywhere within driving distance, do please make it to one of the points ‘en route’ and scream and wave at the guys as they go through. It will warm their hearts … and mine. Again you’ll find the routes on http://rftw.org/

To film the people who turn out along the route, I’m hoping to get permission to drive just behind the pack on one of the days. Right now I’m a good 100 miles behind because of staying to do the filming earlier. As a van or car, one cannot drive with the pack. Imagine hundreds of bikes driving two abreast and close together. The risk is high enough as it is. So us ‘cages’, as we are called, either go behind or in front by a large distance.

Tomorrow I hope to be out in front. That way I’ll be able to film the riders as they arrive at their stopping points and at the end of each day, as we all re-unite.

But that’s tomorrow and it’s feeling a long way ahead; another 260 miles, in fact. For right now, Palm Springs is bl***y hot! I can’t imagine how they are doing out there in the heat. At least I have the van’s roof to protect me from the sun.

Prayers for everyone please.

Run for the Wall 2010 – getting ready May 18th

Riding across the USA for Memorial time in DC

Remember I told you I was on a journey and was going to allow myself to be led by the powers above?

Every time I have been unsure on this road trip and have not known exactly where I am going next, I am sent a messenger. Yesterday’s messenger came in the guise of a female motor bike rider, who rode into the campsite only minutes before I was due to leave. She caught my eye not only because of her beautiful bike, but because it was striking in a number of ways. I asked if I could take some photographs, and on getting closer, I saw a number of different signs on the Honda.


Only one of the words was familiar to me.  POW…..

but the others were not.

MIA?, I asked …… oh of course, Missing in Action.  Run for the Wall ??

As I was still pondering the possible meaning of ‘Run for the Wall’
I noticed a photo on the windshield of the Honda. Underneath the man in the photo the notes read:

Jerry (Mad Dog) Shriver was reported missing in action in Laos, 24 April 1969. He was then a Master Sargent and a Green Beret. Jerry has never been found.

All of the ‘Run for the Wall’ bikers wear the patch shown above on their leathers, and though it’s very small here on this page, you might be able to see that their motto says “…. we ride for those that cannot.”

RFTW (Run for the Wall http://rftw.org ) is in its 22nd year.

This year, in less than 48 hours from now, hundreds of bikers will leave Rancho Cucamonga, California for Washington DC. They will travel by two different routes for a distance of more than 3000 miles and will meet up in Arlington, Virginia, on 28th May before riding together as one, towards DC in time for Memorial Weekend here in the USA.

I’ve never been a military person, and have often voiced my anti-war views, so I never expected to be writing about anything like this. Yet my heart is touched by people who are riding across country to honor those who were left behind, a long way from home.

Maybe it’s because I’m a long way from home that this cause resonates with me. But maybe it’s not only that. Maybe it’s another 60s/70s thing – the era of VWs and Vietnam. Or maybe my heart’s been touched because we are all connected …. we are all a part of life on this planet we call earth, and at the deepest level we all care for each other very much.

****

LOOK OUT FOR MORE NEWS about RFTW and the bikers each day this week …..

Whats Up With LA Taking All of the Water?

JEN AND ROMY FREDERICK OFTEN TAKE OFF IN THEIR VW TO GO CAMPING AND WRITE ABOUT THEIR DISCOVERIES. HERE JEN WRITES ABOUT A RECENT TRIP EAST OF THEIR OAKLAND HOME.
THANKS  FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO OUR BLOG, JEN …..

In our recent jaunts to the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, be it to go to the desert, the mountains, or visit the hot springs, we’ve encountered many signs of land and water being “owned” by the LADWP. Like signs saying, “No Overnight Camping Allowed – LADWP land.” After a while, we wondered who LADWP was. Then we figured out that its actually the city of Los Angeles and LADWP stands for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So why the hell do they own so much land so far away from the city of LA?

It’s because they need to own the land so they could have the right to suck all of it dry! And it’s very apparent when you drive down HWY 395 and look at all of the “lakes” like Mono Lake or Owen’s Lake. In the case of Mono Lake, the LADWP started diverting water out of the river that fed it in the early 1900s and the water level dropped like a rock. Conservation efforts in the 1970s and 1980s stopped them taking as much water as they liked, and now the lake is actually rising again, but it’s still below its natural level. What’s amazing is that Mono Lake is roughly on the same line of longitude as San Francisco, but LA is taking its waters. In the case of Owen’s Lake, it’s even worse. LA completely sucked it dry. It turned from a salt lake like Mono to a salt playa in the 1920s, and now it whips up alkali dust every time there is a wind storm. The people who lived around it complained so much from the dust ‘pollution’ that LA agreed to wet the soil a bit to prevent dust storms. In fact, one of our professors at Berkeley was part of the scientific study which showed how the wind patterns in the Owen’s Valley made the dust storms so bad. She studies how the wind (air) flows over mountains and in mountain valleys. She said that the dry lake bed which was once Owen’s Lake was the largest point source of dust in the western hemisphere! Could you believe that!? After the study was published, that’s when LA decided to start wetting the soil. However, when we drove by Owen’s Lake a couple weeks ago, during a crazy wind storm, we could see the dust storm for miles away!

Owen's Lake Alkali Dust Storm
An alkali dust storm on Owen’s Lake

The wind was really ripping across the Owen’s Valley and picking up a lot of salts and other minerals and dust that cover the now dry lake bed. The cloud formations show just how windy the valley was. The low clouds over the Sierras to the left are caused by condensation of moist air over the mountains. The air is moving very fast downwards into the valley where it dries up, and picks up a lot of dust. In fact, the winds can get so strong that they knock over semi trucks driving on Hwy 395! Then the wind flows back up over the White Mountains to the right, forming this huge front of clouds that runs parallel to the valley. These are the crazy winds that pick up all of the dust and create a hazard when it is windy.

Not only that, but you can’t even camp in the Owen’s Valley because LA owns it to take water from the Owen’s River. Many natural hot springs pop up in that valley and the run off drains into the river, which is tapped by LA. Therefore, LA doesn’t want any new hot tubs built which would interfere with their water supply (even though they wouldn’t at all), nor campers who would just like to enjoy the pleasant scenery.

Our interactions: the busiest day yet

From the stats on this blog, since starting towards the end of December 2009, there have been a total of 2,281 views (not including Carole’s views) of the 59 posts. And you guys have contributed 72 comments on the 59 posts.

The busiest day until recently was around Christmas 2009 and this New Year’s day. Then on Sunday, May 2, 2010 we had our busiest day yet with 107 views.

What happened to get the highest number of daily views so far?

We went to the OEBC VW Spring Picnic in Yorba Linda on 1st & 2nd May – a meeting for air cooled VWs. We camped overnight on Saturday and entered the slow drag race on the Sunday. Also Carole won a raffle prize and on accepting it, thanked the crowd for supporting her in the race and asked them to look up our blog and this web address. That same day we received 107 views.

Afterwards Carole wrote about the event here on this blog, edited the video of the slow drag race and put that up on our youtube channel. She then also added a note and lots of photos on our Facebook Van Page and also a note on our Twitter account to spread the news about the new information available.

All that effort led to 107 views – not bad for a little van at a local event. It’s wonderful that so many people went home and looked up our blog. Next time we hope we reach an even bigger audience, with your help to spread the word.

So, with that in mind, we are hoping that we can ask for your support again, as follows:

1. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, go to the top right corner of this page, enter your email, then check for a WordPress email to you and then confirm your subscription by replying to the WordPress email.

2. Join our  FACEBOOK page at http://bit.ly/aX2F1G

3. Join our YOUTUBE channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/YesWeCanCamperVan

4. Tell your friends and colleagues about us so we can get even more followers and invite them when possible through Facebook and Twitter.

AND LASTLY …..

perhaps you could consider employing Carole on a freelance basis for your promotions and publicity. She can photograph, film, record and write to produce your messages. Then design and create your website, Facebook, youtube and other social media site to promote your message about your business, group or event.

And that way you’ll help fund our trip across America so we can continue to travel and share stories about the real Americans who do care about making this country great.

THANK YOU


Family values – VW style

My spirits were uplifted after I wrote the previous post ….. by two events relating to my VW van.

The first was when the van’s engine made a very nasty noise last Thursday and it threw out a spark plug. I never knew an engine could do that and I was thankful that I had met some other VW owners recently to turn to for help. The result was an outpouring of reassuring messages, and contact by one VW pal whose father came to find me the next morning with the right tools to put the spark plug back into position.

The second event was the Saturday night camp out and Sunday Spring Fling in Yorba Linda. Two hundred and seventy something VWs turned out for a day of fun and games on 1st/2nd May 2010.

With our Massachusetts registration plate we stood out in a crowd of California vintage bugs, buses and vans, yet were given a very warm welcome. In fact we received lots of cheers and shouts of encouragement when we got to the final of the Slow Drag Race.

Here’s a video of the race ….

Simple family fun was the order of the day and it was sooooo nice.

In case you have not experienced VW folk, they are rather special, just like their vintage vehicles. It’s as if the values of the 60’s and 70’s are rekindled when we get together with our VWs from that era. Beautiful designs and colors come back to life in the loving arms of their owners as VWs are restored to their former glory.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could take this example as a metaphor of what’s possible in the rekindling of the American spirit, especially here in southern California?

VW FAMILY VALUES

….. enjoy competition while having fun, being nice to each other and laughing at oneself!