Not sleeping well yet again, my wife and I awoke at 5am before our other roommates, and got ready for the day. Our good friends John and Shiz found us walking around the hotel, and we proceeded to find the hotel’s provided breakfast not being as good as we would have liked. We also found the hotel staff, outside of front desk staff, not to be good English speakers and incapable of answering basic questions such as a request for extra towels or where to get things like toothpaste or even a pickle to munch on.
Saturday was a free day for everybody, to make their own arrangements for the day however they liked. Our plans were to grab six friends, and visit Arlington National Cemetery as well as at least one local Harley Davidson dealership for the requisite purchase of a shot glass for the collection. We had gotten fuel again before returning to the hotel the night before, so we were all ready to go.
Arlington was extremely popular this morning, and our motorcycles quickly went into parade mode (running on one cylinder to reduce heat reaching the rider) as we slowly inched our way around the Washington Mall and onto the Cemetery grounds. Parking was a pain, as the attendants were of not much help, could not properly work the gates, and could have cared less about the tens of thousands of bikers who were sweltering on the asphalt.
I had promised my boss at work that if we visited Arlington, that I would try to visit her dad’s gravesite and get some pictures for her. Her dad was buried there in 2007 with full military honors, having retired with the rank of LTC (Lieutenant Colonel); and she was wanting a nice photo of the permanent marker that had been installed. My wife and friends went on a tour to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well many other interesting sights including the Robert E. Lee Memorial, the Challenger and Iran Rescue Mission stops. I decided to do something personal for somebody that would mean more to them than what a tour would personally fulfill for me.
Knowing the name of my boss’s father, I spent ninety minutes in three different lines to narrow down the location and how to find the gravesite. The final clerk was very hopeful, and advised walking to the location versus moving the bike from its location and trying to get back to that location later to park again by my friends. With temperatures already in the high 80s, I set off for a nice long walk to the correct section…which with what is typically my type of luck, was located at the furthest corner from the visitors center I had spent so much time already.
The thirty minutes each way of walking allowed me to get a good feeling for the volume of individuals interred there, and realizing that this was just one of many national cemeteries forever protecting those military personnel that had fought in wars to protect the things many of us take for granted. Eventually finding the site, photos were taken, the marker was cleaned, and a few words were said that I know my boss wouldn’t mind being spoken. Finding some shade under a tree away from any markers, I texted my boss a few words along with one of the unedited pictures I had just taken. The walk back felt good, knowing that with Memorial Day just two days away, and the loss of her father so recent, I was able to do something that meant so much for somebody I consider not only a boss, but a friend.
Having rehydrated with several trips to one of the drinking fountains at the visitor center, I sat in some of the limited shade and waited for my friends to return. We exited the cemetery, and rode about 15 miles to the HD of Washington dealership, only to find that they were out of free food and water already at about 2PM. Parking was horrendous in poorly managed nearby lots, traffic was outrageous, and the crowds surrounding the dealership seemed to just be taking up space. We didn’t see a lot of buying of anything, other than some people that were happy to pay $30 for the “official” t-shirt; something none of us were willing to do. There was just volumes of people there, but nothing really worth observing. The salesgirl we talked to said they didn’t have the volume of shot glasses needed, so of course I was unable to buy one.
Returning to hotel, a side run was made for fuel for those that needed it, as well as cold beer from a local 7-11 convenience store. When beer is seen, other riders seem to come out of the woodwork, like ants attracted to cookie crumbs. It never fails to amaze me how many people approach us when we return from a beer run to ask where they can buy some. Seriously, every time with large groups of riders, five to ten people ask this question. Why they don’t ask at the local fuel station or even at the front desk never makes sense to me. We come across as kings of riches when we carry beer back to our rooms, or out on a patio to enjoy.
My wife got dehydrated earlier in the day and at the time of this writing, is sleeping at 8:30pm. She grabbed a cool shower on our return and drank a lot of liquids. Our favorite is Gatorade’s G2, as it is loaded with electrolytes for replenishment. Our roommates went out to Olive Garden with one of their local family members. Quiet evening so far, and I hope it stays that way. Wake up call is set for 4am, as we meet at 5:45 to head out to do the demonstration ride tomorrow.
Wireless at the hotel cost $10 per day. I refuse to pay for an Internet connection after paying hundreds of dollars for the room. So, this entry (and Friday’s) will get posted some time in the next couple of days when free offerings are found. Needless to say, a few entries will get posted at once. Not sure I will be typing a blog entry tomorrow, as once the demonstration ride is completed, we will break off and head for Fredericksburg, Virginia.