If there is one word to describe the first day of the 2014 KPCRAA, it would be “HOT.” And I don’t just mean kinda warm. I mean it reminded me of Kandahar, Afghanistan, freakin’ HOT!I would say the ambient temperature was easily 102 degrees. Add on the heat bouncing off the asphalt and the engine heat of our motorcycles, and I would say it was easily 120 degrees. The heat did take its toll on some of our riders. There were signs of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Thank God for Kyle’s early morning prayer because God was certainly with us.
Kickstands went up at 0645 as we departed Carlsbad and the luxurious Hilton Oceanfront Resort and Spa. My wife Angela took pictures as she saw us off (visit her Coffee Corner site). A lovely lady by the name of Sally, who lives locally, came out for me to sign a book and wish us well. We got to meet Georgia Bulldogs’ football player and Heisman trophy winner, Herschel Walker. Never met Herschel before, but I will never forget watching his first college game, fall of 1980 at Neyland Stadium, against my alma mater Tennessee. I was a sophomore at Rocky Top and we thought he killed Bill Bates when he ran over him!We traveled north on I-5 to California Hwy 78 East. It was a cool morning so most of us had on our jackets. The ride along Hwy 78 was spectacular. As we began our ascent into the San Pasqual Valley, we rode through the quaint town of Ramona. I noticed, being a history buff, we went right past the sight of the Battle of San Pasqual which occurred on December 6-7, 1846, during the Mexican War. (It was not a fine hour for the Americans. You should read up on that skirmish.)
We slowly began our climb and after passing through the beautiful San Pasqual Valley, came to Santa Ysabel. The next thing I knew, we were in a beautiful nostalgic town named Julian, at a 4,000 ft. elevation. I would love to visit Julian one day. I just wish the taxes in California weren’t so doggone high, there are some beautiful spots.
After the town of Julian, we began our descent. One could feel the thermal changes as we hit the high desert floor of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Boy howdy, did it get hot quick! As I traversed through the terrain, I was reminded of the first time I deployed to the National Training Center (NTC) in the Mojave Desert. Those early deployments were instrumental in our decimating the Iraqi Army in the open desert warfare of Operation Desert Storm. I was also reminded of the similarity of that terrain and southern Afghanistan, where I spent two and a half years.One thing caught my eye as we rode through the Borrego Desert Park. A lone US Border Patrol agent in an SUV. Now, I know a little something about patrolling a zone of operations in an open desert, and if this is what our country calls security, well, give me a break. We all need to understand that the “heavy number of deportations” reported by the Obama administration takes into account those turned back at the border — hmm, not exactly what the term “deportation” means.
Our first rendezvous point for gas top off was at the town of Westmoreland in the Imperial Valley, a lush green agricultural basin. As you may know, I have been to the central valley twice. Westmoreland and the adjacent city of Brawley are like a beautiful desert oasis. When we pulled up, there was a crowd of folks there to meet us. What a treat and an honor! I was personally greeted by a young lady named Bari Smith who gave me a Brawley, CA, t-shirt, some local beef jerky from Brandt beef, but most importantly, a personal letter. Bari is a 27-year-old proud young conservative American, with a master’s from Georgetown University. God bless her — she represents what the future of this Republic will once again be. Her private letter to me is an inspiration to “fight on” as a Guardian of the Republic. Bari, I accept your challenge and you just may be seeing me back that way!
Bari was such an impressive individual that she now possesses my black long-sleeve Kandahar “Bad Boys” t-shirt. I did have one point of disagreement with the folks of the Imperial Valley. Who has the sweetest onions — Imperial Valley or Vidalia, Georgia? You know who won, I was outnumbered.From Westmoreland/Brawley, CA, we continued to US Interstate 8 which I did not realize ran so very close to the Mexican border. There’s a lot of open area there, folks. Next stop — Yuma. I have always known Yuma as the home of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma. Again, a great crowd awaited our arrival as we pulled in for fueling.
There, I met another solid conservative woman, Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, who is running for US Congress in Arizona District 3. She is running against the fella who was the Chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Raul Grijalva — the folks who believe we should have a constitutional amendment mandating redistribution of wealth. Ms. Mercer has a daughter serving in the Marines. She asked me for an endorsement and I am asking God’s blessing and providence upon her and her valiant efforts.
Remember I told you it was HOT? Doggone, the ride from Yuma to Gila Bend was a sizzler. It is all about hydration, and some of our riders learned a tough lesson. As we approached Gila Bend, I saw a HUGE solar energy field; hope it’s not federally subsidized. I hear that birds are getting whacked out here by the solar fields and wind farms. Anyway, Gila Bend was a sight for sore eyes for this fella. I dumped down four bottles of cold water without blinking and met a very nice lady who brought a book for me to autograph. Gila Bend, AZ, — ain’t American great!
Finally we hit I-10 and headed east to Tucson. If I had gone another 10 miles, I would have felt like the character Beau Geste, from the famed novel of the French Foreign Legion in North Africa.
We had a nice dinner and were serenaded by the Bar D Wranglers from Durango, Colorado. In the lobby, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a former Airborne Artillery NCO with whom I served in the 4th Infantry Division Artillery. Travis is now a US Border Patrol agent; what an example of service, sacrifice, and commitment.
It is 9:44 pm (PST) as I wrap up this first KPCRAA missive. I had planned to get up early and run three miles in the morning — but three rattlesnake sightings right here on the hotel grounds since we arrived changed my mind. I did not come all this way to get bitten by a darn snake!
Steadfast and Loyal!