Friday, September 16, 2016

One More Ride for Twice Across America...with Jackson!

 Back when this trip was in its planning stages, our young nephew Jackson was intrigued with what we wanted to do and planned to ride the last mile into Boston with us when we reached that point. When we left Seattle, the journey grew and flowered into a beautiful expression of gratitude and Bill pedaled on. Sometimes I went ahead and he would catch up to me; other times he cycled ahead and I would find him. Each time, we were happy and relieved to find each other. Each of us going on alone aiming for our goal. When the time grew closer to pedaling into Boston, we found out that because of school, Jackson would not be able to be there for the last mile. So after an incredible finish in Boston, we headed to New Hampshire for a short visit and rest. When we arrived, we parked in Bill's brothers driveway and after visiting for awhile, we collapsed into bed. The next day, Jackson said he wished he had been in Boston with us, so Bill decided he would do one more ride. He checked over Jackson's bicycle adjusting gears, oiling the chain, and topping off his tires while Jackson put on the "Twice Across America" shirt we had given him and came out eager to start. We drove the route the previous day and found there were quite a few hills, one big one in particular, so we decided to drive to the top of the big hill and have Bill and Jackson cycle down and around to the Washington Police Department. We parked the truck and they got ready to go.
Jackson's dad, Mike, had followed in his side by side so I climbed in the front seat with my camera and we followed the 2 cyclists down the hill. Bill stayed to Jackson's left and we made quite a group traveling the back roads of Washington.

Jackson had a little trouble with his shoelaces, but his dad took care of that and he was on his way again.  
On the way there, Mike saw the photographer of the local paper coming the other way and flagged him down. Even though he had ice cream, he agreed to follow and get pictures. Mike and I went a little bit ahead at the end so I could get a picture of Bill and Jackson as they cycled up to the police station.
Melissa drove up and then the photographer so Jackson was able to have pictures with his parents
and with Bill too.
Unfortunately, the Chief was off that day but Jackson was delighted just to be able to ride. Jackson and I got in the side by side with Mike and Melissa drove her car. Bill wanted to take on "the hill" LOL! So we all set off back to my truck. Jackson had eaten a cookie and had more water so he wanted to get back out and cycle some more. I climbed into the truck, Jackson started out and Mike stayed to his left in the side by side.
I followed with my flashers on and we escorted him safely along. This young man was in his glory! :) After awhile, he hit the wall and was ready to ride home in the side by side, but he had done very well. When we arrived at their house, Bill arrived covered in sweat and declared that "the hill" had really kicked his butt! Later on, I was talking to Jackson and with all the honesty of an 8 year old, he said, "This was the best day of my life...except for maybe Waterworld." :) We visited for a couple more days and hooked up the little beach house on wheels to head home. On the way past the Police Station, we saw the Chief's cruiser there so pulled in to see him. We told him the whole story and he was glad we had stopped. He showed us his patch collection and we traded some with him.
So he got to be part of this journey too. In a couple more days, we would be back in Tennessee and I know that while it will be good to be home, a part of me will always be out on the road thanking our law enforcement. Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Weymouth, MA to Boston, MA

The motorcycle police would zoom ahead and stop traffic at the intersections as we came to them and cruisers came and went along the route. Some of the smaller towns along the way had their own officers closing down intersections and they saluted Bill as he rolled by. A tear would slide down my cheek as I watched this happen over and over. After this long journey of cycling through cold, rain, and heat and facing loneliness and careless drivers on the road, we were both overwhelmed by this outpouring of gratitude. We had done this to thank them and yet they have showed so much more thanks to us. We stopped by the Quincy Police Department where Bill met Lt. Richard McCusker who was the Commander for the Special Operations Unit.
He shared patches and coins with us and we continued on.
I also have a Braintree patch and coin and with all the excitement, I can't remember who handed these to me. If one of you know who that was, please leave me a message here and I will correct this.

At the Boston town line, the Quincy Motorcycle Patrol broke away and we were in Boston!
To avoid the busier roads, we went on side streets, some of which were only one car wide with parked cars along the other side of the road. Through Roxbury, Dorchester and Chinatown…on and on we went.
The sky was blue and the city looked beautiful to me. As we neared Boston Police Headquarters,
I saw a large hook and ladder fire truck across the street. As Bill and the Bicycle Patrols cycled past, they raised the ladder with a large American flag attached to it.
I asked the officer with me what the special event was. He said, “That’s for Bill, it’s a surprise for him.” Well, guess what, I got all misty again! We pulled into the Police Headquarters and there were officers and bicycle patrolmen everywhere and pictures
and handshakes and hugs and tears. We gave the gifts from the commissioner in Seattle that we had carried across the country and received more in return.

So many kind words and caring people. Some had read my blog post about getting hurt and were concerned for me. Some asked about our children and were anxious with us about our son who was about to leave Turkey. (He called on Friday; he made it to Italy safely!)
A couple of officers stopped the traffic in front of the Police Headquarters so that Bill could get across and thank the firefighters for the beautiful surprise of the American flag being raised.
Since we still had one more stop at the Old North Church, Bill thought it would be back to him and I. The Boston Police weren’t about to let that happen! LOL! All of the Bicycle Patrolmen joined us and Isaac now took over closing down intersections and keeping the group safe. We went down narrow winding streets and arrived at the Old North Church, our final stop.

I couldn’t believe we were here; after so long, we had reached our goal. Lt. Murphy of the Bicycle Patrol with us hollered over the noise of the crowd, “Hey Everybody! This guy just finished a 4000 mile ride across the United States to thank police officers and he just finished here!”
Everyone applauded and my heart swelled with pride for my husband as he had achieved his goal. The Vicar of the Old North Church came out to see us and we introduced ourselves and explained the journey we had been on. I took a picture of the Vicar and Bill together
and we traded one of Bill’s shirts with one of the shirts from the gift shop. I took pictures of the church and watched as Lt. Murphy loaded Bill’s bike onto the bike rack on the back of the cruiser
and Isaac drove us to the hotel with instructions for us to call for a ride back to Weymouth in the morning. So we checked in with our Cabella’s bag luggage and discovered that Bill’s sandals were still in the truck back in Weymouth. So he clip-clopped in his cycling shoes to a nearby mall area where we went into a Clark’s shoe store. The shoes we found in his size (13) were $125…a little too rich for this little country girl. We finally found a pair of deck type shoes for $59.95 on a sale rack. Still a lot to me, but we hadn’t found anything anywhere else. When we took them up to the register, they rang up for $19.95! That’s my kind of price! LOL! So after a shower and clean clothes, we had some dinner and walked down by the water and looked in Faneuil Hall and walked back to the Harborside Inn. It was difficult to fall asleep and we were awake again at 4 am too excited to sleep any longer. It was as if that perfect day was a movie of someone else’s life. We were so humbled by all the gratitude expressed to us. We had started this journey with the simple idea of saying Thank-You, not knowing then the impact it would have on so many people across the country. Thank-You all so much for your caring, kindness, and generosity to us. It was unexpected and touched us deeply. Our lives have been changed and we hope that we have been an encouragement to those who risk their lives for us. So it was time to go back to day to day life and we packed up and got an early breakfast and called Lt. Murphy to send someone for us. We were taken back to our truck in Weymouth where we chatted with a Motorcycle Officer and a Bike Patrol Officer that couldn’t be there the day before.
Bill and I both had “Police Lives Matter” bracelets on and we shared them with these men,

Chief Grimes came by too and had the memorial bracelet on that we had given him.
From there we drove our truck back to the campground, picked up our camper and headed away to see family and head home. Now we have been…twice across America. Thanks for reading.