Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Freedom is Never Free! -- Rally to Ridgecrest, 2011, Part II


Welcome back to the rest of the long holiday weekend.  I hope you are ready for some more riding and fellowship.  If you missed it, you can view Part I here

Sunday morning dawns, and after the devotional and breakfast, we assemble for the ride to the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery over in Black Mountain.  Veterans go first, then the rest of us.  Hundreds of bikes are ready to roll the short distance to the cemetery.  We are given a small American Flag to carry with us on the way and to leave on a grave.  People along the route are out waving and showing their patriotic colors.

Photo on Facebook by Rally to Ridgecrest
The mournful sound of a lone bagpiper is heard once the noise of the cycles stops and we walk closer.
Photo by Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper

Photo by Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper
The honor guard salutes our flag, we sing the National Anthem, then Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin speaks of the sacrifice these who lay in graves nearby made for our freedom -- some making the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives.  Every one of them pledged to fight our enemies, both foreign and domestic.  We many times forget how our freedom originated, with a group of wise men over two hundred years ago who penned our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  They were godly men who understood the necessity for the leadership of the new republic to also be moral and godly.  Those brilliant works -- the Constitution and Bill of Rights -- were meant to be the rule of law, unwavering and firm.  The thought that these documents would be bent to suit the whims and vicissitudes of each new generation was inconceivable, but most in leadership today have chosen to trample that vital fact.

A wreath is laid in honor of these man and women.  It carries the following message:

"To the families of the brave men and women who rest here….

"Standing on this hillside we reflect on this sea of green blades of grass and pure white stones that gives witness to the price of freedom. Freedom is NEVER free!

"Every white stone here represents the personal story of someone who thought it worthy to give their life for ours. The story of one who out of duty and honor was prepared to sacrifice themselves for the cause of freedom – for OUR freedom. Freedom is NEVER free!

"They left their dreams behind. They left their families behind. They paid the price for freedom and we are forever in their debt. We must not forget. Freedom is NEVER free!

"Such a sacrifice demands our dedication to live our lives in a way worthy of this sacrifice. This is a sacred objective, but in truth it cannot be accomplished. There is no way to earn the sacrifice of a life for yours – a sacrifice of that magnitude is a gift that cannot be repaid.

"This sacrifice is a reminder to us of the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross and the free gift of His grace that frees us from the penalty of sin. That gift also can never be repaid. All we can do is live a life that shows we understand the high price that has been paid for us. We must live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God.

"Today, we gather in front of this memorial to remember the sacrifices, the courage, and the bravery of the men and women who fought and died for this country. And we remember those who serve even today around the world in harm’s way and pray for their protection as they fight for freedom. As we pray for these who have fallen, we also remember those who went to war and are still missing.

"We pray that those who rest here have found peace with their Creator, and we resolve that their sacrifice will always be remembered by a grateful nation.

"May God Bless the Untied States of America.

"The Riders
Rally to Ridgecrest
Memorial Day 2011

"John 15:13 says, 'No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends'". Holman CSB
We sing again, then make our ways over this field, paying our respect to these dead.  We each leave our flag on a grave, then move back to our bikes for the return to the conference center.

There, we assemble for worship, and hear General Boykin speak again.  This time it is that "Freedom is Never Free".  It is hard-won by our men in uniform, and is to be cherished, nurtured, and protected by our entire being, on the battlefield, on the streets, in the voting booth. 

This bike's license tag asks an appropriate question of us:

Perhaps we should ask instead, "Will we remain free?"

On Sunday after lunch, my roommates depart for home.  I had decided a few weeks ago that I would ride home on Monday after a good night's rest, so I will stay one more night.

After they leave, I set out for one more day ride.  This time I follow US-70 again to the east, then go up NC-226, and NC-226Alt (two of the roads I skipped yesterday on the way home), then to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I weave up these roads, explore a little, then decide to check out a road that I know is gravel, but that I have been unable to determine is open to traffic.  Its name is Curtis Creek Road, or Forest Route 482.  I set my GPS to the approximate place where it should intersect the Parkway and go that way.  The Parkway is, again, a good ride, though there is some additional traffic today.

At the appropriate point, I find the start of Curtis Creek Road.  It doesn't look too bad [Come on, Bucky.  Admit it: You really just like to try out gravel roads on your street bike, like these others: Green River Road, Musterground Road, and Toccoa].  The road is a bit contorted as it leads down grade from the Parkway, but the surface is not too bad except for a few sections of loose gravel.  I make steady, if slow, progress.  A fellow on a dirt bike storms past me, his knobbies better gripping the dirt and stone under him much better than my street tires. 

There is a stream -- Curtis Creek -- that parallels the road for quite a ways:
I pull off the road in a seemingly secluded area to take the picture and for a needed break.  As I am working through the necessary business, I hear voices.  Whoa!  Way out here in the middle of nowhere?  Well, now that I pay attention, there are three kids playing in the creek a little upstream from me, and a group of about five walking up the road toward me from the opposite direction.  This is like downtown New York City here.  I pull myself together, put on my gloves, and take off again -- no one being the wiser [I hope]. 

About a quarter mile down the road, I come across the reason for the crowd: a campground.  The Curtis Creek Campground, in fact, about here on the map.  Catchy name, by the way, being next to Curtis Creek.

A little further on, I happen across this scene:
This is another overshot waterwheel; similar to the one I saw a few weeks back while searching for a local tag.  This one is better preserved, and the building is well maintained.  I didn't trace the water source, Newberry Creek, but there must be a dam upstream to provide the head pressure.  I believe this is it: 
Photo by lakejames.tv
I hit pavement to the south, shortly after the waterwheel, and the remainder of the trip back to Ridgecrest is quick and easy.  I feel a bit of regret that this weekend will shortly be coming to a close.  

Anyway, here is the route for today, only about sixty-nine miles: 

View Larger Map

Sunday night finds us in worship again, though the crowd has thinned quite a bit.  Many have already left for home, including my roommates.  Before bed, I pack up my saddlebags, tail bag, and tank bag ready for my trip home.

These bags have served me well on the trips I have taken.  They hold enough clothing for about three days, but nothing much that is bulky.  Everyone else has a pair of jeans, for example, but I just don't have the room, so a pair of Nylon pants must suffice for me.  I also have some items that I usually don't carry on day trips, including an electric tire pump, spare bulbs, a clutch cable, throttle cables, jumper cables, dopp kit, motorcycle cover, and 12 and 120 volt chargers for cell phone and camera batteries. 

As Monday morning dawns, and I take my luggage out to the bike.  I check the tire pressure, oil and coolant levels and give it a general look over.  Everything seems fine.  No parts have fallen off over the course of the weekend despite my rattling over some pretty rough roads.  Nothing seems loose or out of place.  I am a bit concerned about the chain, however.  The jerkiness that its uneven stretch causes can't be good for the sprockets or for the transmission output shaft and bearings.  (The new chain arrived and was installed shortly after the weekend trip.) 

I towel off the seat of dew so I don't get a wet bottom first thing, then dress in some lightweight but long sleeve and long leg synthetic fiber underwear because it is a little cool this morning, then don my back protector, leather suit, and boots.  I have my alarm control, my identification, and my signal whistle around my neck, too.  I slip on my helmet and gloves and motor over to the main building, then eat breakfast.  I don't eat heavily this morning, but the food is again tasty.  Afterward, we go to the auditorium for prayer and final goodbyes.

The scooter guy and a couple who rode their two bikes from over near Walhalla have decided to ride with me on the way home.  I suggest a route that is a combination of freeways and a little stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway to bypass the heavy traffic of Asheville.  The three seem glad to be part of a little group and like my proposed route.  We travel west on I-40, cut off on US-70, then enter the Parkway headed south.  We travel only about eleven miles on the Parkway, but it is a pleasant trip through a tree-lined corridor.  We exit the Parkway near the North Carolina Arboretum, and follow the French Broad River for a mile or so before we turn to get onto the I-26 freeway.    We zip along with traffic there; veer off on US-25 until we turn on SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.  After a few miles, I leave the others and head south as they continue toward the west, all to our waiting homes, loved ones, and best of all, our own beds. 

My route home: 

View Larger Map

I arrive about 11:30, so the day is still young.

The weekend activities have been inspirational, the fellowship grand, the honor of veterans and service men heartfelt...and the weather has been good for riding ever since Saturday morning, affected, I believe, by quite a number of prayers.  

Nice as it is to get away, getting home is always sweet.  In fact, my sweetie is there waiting for me.  I shrug off my riding suit and other stuff, shower, and sit down to a light lunch she has waiting.  What a girl! 
Cross above Ridgecrest Conference Center

Well, we have covered about 565 miles in total, and I hope you have enjoyed tagging along with me this holiday weekend.  Thanks for traveling these roads, and do remember that freedom is never free.  Here in these United States, that freedom was granted by God, organized by devout leaders, and won by patriots who shed their blood.

So, the next time you meet a veteran or a current service man, let him know that you appreciate his putting himself in harm's way for you and me.  Pray for him, and pray for our freedom, in grave peril today from without and within. 

Links to related postings:

Freedom is Never Free! -- Rally to Ridgecrest, 2011, Part I
Rally to Ridgecrest Facebook Page

Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally
Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally, Part II, The Ride Up
Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally, Part III, Saturday
Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally, Part IV, Sunday and the Ride Home


Jerry Boykin joined what would become the world's premier Special Operations unit—Delta Force—in 1978. The only promise: "a medal and a body bag." What followed was a .50 caliber round in the chest and a life spent with America's elite forces bringing down warlords and war criminals, despots and dictators.
In Colombia, his task force hunted the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. In Panama, he helped capture the brutal dictator Manuel Noriega, liberating a nation. From Vietnam to Iran to Mogadishu, Lt. General Jerry Boykin's life reads like an action-adventure movie.

Today he is an ordained minister with a passion for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraging Christians to become warriors for God's Kingdom.

1 comment:

irondad said...

What a special event. I'm also glad to see you gaining confidence in your riding as wrote in the last post.

May we never forget the service and sacrifice that has bought our freedoms.