Friday, June 2, 2017

~ Freedom is NOT Free ~

"All Gave Some ~ Some Gave All"

The question presented by my brother is a good one,  “What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?”

“Well, have you ever heard the song by Billy Ray Cyrus – Could’ve Been Me?”

In his song, the lyrics tell us that, “All gave some.  Well, that’s Veterans Day. " Hearing the words in my mind, I continue.  The second part, “Some gave all.  Well, that’s Memorial Day.  That’s how I remember it."  He nodded in understanding.  I love those words and I carry them with me on this Memorial Day as I think about my ride towards Lone Pine and then Bishop for the annual Bishop Mule Days.

My alarm clock rings wildly precisely 5 am as programmed.  This is Memorial Day weekend and the campground at Lone Pine will most likely be full by 2 pm.  So with those thoughts, my motorcycle moves quickly along a route it has done a dozen times before.  Actually, once awake, I enjoy the early morning hours.  The air is cool and there are few cars on the roads.  It is still critical to look for deer who also like the early morning hours.

This is one of my favorite motorcycle rides along Highway 178 past Lake Isabella, and then north onto Highway 395.  Approaching Lake Isabella now.  The sight of a full lake is such a reward.  As a kid, I fished the lake with my good friend Warnell Roberson and his family.  There are hundreds of RV’s along the shore enjoying the cool water.  There are many American flags waving proudly in the breeze.

Highway 395, along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, is perhaps one of the most scenic roads in America.  I daydream looking up towards the massive Sierra mountains covered in deep snow.  I remember riding a horse along some of the trails in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.  We camped, fished, and experienced the magic of the Sierra Mountains.  The magic dust is hopefully still with me, if only on my motorcycle tires.

The Lone Pine Campground is there before me and to my surprise, there are three empty sites.  In years past, I have camped at site 29.  I like it because it has some big boulders and a mountain stream within ten feet of this site.  I can’t believe my luck today.  Site 29 is empty and I quickly claim this spot for the next two nights.  Tomorrow, I'll head for the Bishop Parade and the Mule Days events.

View towards Mount Whitney

I try to attend the Bishop Mule Days each year, primarily to support the National Park Service packers who compete at these events.  My good friend Jim Harvey, a retired legendary packer, will celebrate his 81st birthday tomorrow.  Younger, lead packer, Nick Knutson with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is busy getting the stock ready for the competitions.  Once he sees me, he comes over to say hello with a huge bear hug.

It is exciting to see the teams compete and the NPS crews perform well.  Here are a few pictures of the festive Mule Days.

Bishop Mule Days Parade

Rock Creek Packer

A final sprint into 1st place - Rock Creek Packer

1st place - Rock Creek Packers

Sequoia/Kings Canyon Packers narrowly miss 1st place

Sequoia/Kings Canyon Packers earned 2nd place

An NPS leader and the best friend the Bishop Mule Days ever had

The Bishop Mule Days events are done for today.  Tomorrow there will be more, but for me I'm heading home.

Farewell Lone Pine ~ until next time

There is a Harley-Davidson dealership in Bakersfield where I normally stop for a rest on my way back to Three Rivers.  I like this place because they usually have popcorn, donuts, coffee, and of course a wide variety of Harley Davidson motorcycles.  They also have some incredibly comfortable sofas.  In the center of the showroom is a 2017 H-D Steet Glide that is going to be given away to someone with the purchase of a $50 raffle ticket.  It is sponsored by The Wounded Heroes Fund with the proceeds helping local veterans.  A good cause, and a great motorcycles up for grabs.

2017 H-D Street Glide is up for grabs ~ Bakersfield Harley-Davidson

Yesterday before leaving Three Rivers, I wrote down these words to remember and honor some fallen veterans close to me on this Memorial Day.  Undoubtedly, there thousands more.  

 A Tear Blinded Me

Many loved ones who served our country are no longer here.
As soldiers they faced fear.
Yet they fought brave battles far and near.
Memorial Day we remember them, wiping away a tear.
Freedom is not free.

~ In memory of Valentin Moya, Sebastian C. Griego, John Lopez, Gene Christiansen, Clarence Griego, Charles Lemus, Larry Dokie Sr., Vince Roleter, and Merle H. Longnecker ~

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