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Charley Barnes Recounts His 10,000 Mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride – Leg 7

Charley gets coffee and donuts delivered to his hotel before starting on Leg 7 of his journey. The delivery in Jessup, Maryland, was made courtesy of a co-workers sister. Photo by Corena Jane McCormack.

Today’s story is Leg 7, on my 10,000 mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride. All in all, a pretty boring day in the grand scheme of things with not much to report other than miles and miles of riding.

Author’s note:  Yes, I actually lost the Honor Flight Northern Colorado hat that Matt Voris sent me to Augusta, Georgia. It must have been when Erik Klinger and I stopped for lunch (the place with no AC) and went to the Men’s room to soak my head and wash up a bit. I must have left it on the dyer up high and walked out, without my hat.  I was so mad and embarrassed when I was looking for it in Jessup, Maryland that I decided I wouldn’t tell Matt and buy one when I got home. I hope he doesn’t see this.

When I woke up after a quick nap, I did the first thing I did every morning; pull the curtains to the side and see what Mother Nature had in store for me. To my surprise it was pouring and I just smiled and hopped in the shower. The smile was actually reverse tears because the last thing I wanted to do was put on rain gear to start my day.

The day’s highlight was a special delivery by the sister of a co-worker of mine. Chris Hernandez, who’s sister Corena Jane McCormack, has a husband stationed at Fort Meade which is just down the road from Jessup, Maryland, where I had just spent the night. Corena took it upon herself to hand deliver a full box of donuts and a box of coffee (that you can see in my cooler in the backseat) which was a HUGE bright spot on the rainy Maryland morning.

Panic had set in the night before as I had to re-route myself in order to get the 10,000 miles in within the 10 days. I knew there was no way I would make it through Philadelphia, New York City and all the other misery and toll roads the Eastern seaboard would serve up in all its kindness.

Time to scramble and go off-grid and do what had to be done to get the 10,000 in so I veered Northwest on the Interstate system not really caring where I was going (which was kind of nice to not have have an actual destination to shoot for) only that I needed a 1000+ miles for the day.

I made gas stops in Gettysburg, PA, Dupont, PA, Castle Creek, NY, Williamsport, PA, Flintstone, MD, and lord knows where else. I’m not even sure at this point what state I’m in and had to actually ask once when in Flintstone, Maryland late in the evening. When I asked where I was the lady told me Flintstone to which I replied, “I know, what state?”  She looked at me with the bewildered look and said Maryland. I asked if she had ever heard of Honor Flight and handed her a flyer and she understood.  She even bought my coffee. Remembering her name though would take a miracle at this point.

It was also in New York somewhere I actually paid $12 for a pack of smokes…still can’t believe I did that. Then the fog rolled in. I mean FOG!  75 miles of fog through Pennsylvania that was so thick you literally couldn’t see the length of a semi-truck. I have never experienced a more uncomfortable feeling being in fog that thick for that long. The fun of it wore off very quickly.

Then the rain rolled in, right when the sun went down, and rained like it had never rained before all the way to Tennessee and when I say hard rain I mean rain like Noah was on his way. I can’t even begin to tell you how depressed I was about midnight when for the first time I questioned myself, and my abilities, and really pondered if I would even get close to finishing this ride. I had reached a point of exhaustion I have never experienced and safety for the day was becoming a factor.

It was when I finally made it to wherever it was I stopped for the night (forgot the receipt) that I knew the ride was only two days from being done and quitting now was not an option. In fact, quitting was never an option, but the time frame of completing the ride was.

Physically, I was good to go, mentally, I was drained, but I would ride on the next day as the day before with renewed vigor as the ride was heading West and home.

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