My Journey 4 Justice (Part 5) – The Ride Home
Welcome to the final chapter of my Journey 4 Justice ride to Topeka. As I had mentioned at the end of part 4, when we left Topeka at 9 local time, it was a beautiful morning. The minute we turned the corner onto I-70 the wind hit us like a kick to the groin.
Now remember, I have had my bike for 5 years but have never been further than Estes Park before. Danny Joe just got a bike and learned to ride 2 months ago and had never been anywhere. Charley is "The Hogfather". There is no better rider that I know of. He has seen and done it all. There is no better feeling for a rider than to look in front of you and see the back of Charley's head. Charley and I both have Harleys. His, a fully dressed street machine, mine a Dyna Wide Glide with no windshield. Danny Joe rides a Honda 750. This will all come in to play.
Feeling the pressure of that wind pushing on you is so intense. When you are driving 50-75 mph into a 40-60 mph head winds it gets a little tiring to catch your breath. We were just a few miles out of town when I saw Charley's coffee mug get sucked out of his bike and splash across the interstate. I was right behind him and got my face plastered with his vanilla caramel mochafrappa foamy coffee thingy drink. I could smell vanilla all the way to Hays.
I have never seen wind blow like it did that day. The head winds were brutal but when it was a cross wind it could be even more difficult. We drove at a 45 degree angle. At times it felt like we were being tossed at sea. I don't know how we kept our bikes up and in our lanes.
One of my breaking points came in Quinter, Kansas. We stopped there to fuel and had to hold on to the gas pumps to keep from being blown down while we filled our tanks. We sat down on the dirt behind the gas station and watched boxes, tumbleweeds and the cow from 'Twister' go speeding by. It was there I told them if it didn't start getting easier I was gonna have to call it quits. I could not physically do it much longer. The wind had completely exhausted me. We sat there for about an hour and we decided we would try to get to Hays. The wind had gotten so bad that you could only do 40 to 50 miles max before you had to stop and get your strength. When we would drive into the head wind, Danny Joe could only get his bike to 50 to 60 mph, which was fine with me because my chest couldn't take much more pressure.
We were just east of Hays when we ran into a cowboy and his son, who had been rodeoing in Hays. We asked if they had room for our "horses" in his stock trailer. He did, but was headed east. We continued on, stopping at every little town along the way. When we finally hit the state line, night had fallen and the cold started to set in. I once again reached my breaking point in the small town of Arriba. I had been in non-stop prayer mode since we left Topeka and was even too mentally exhausted to say "please lord" one more time. I called home to say I was okay but broke down in tears. I had given all I had. It was then that Charley helped me big time. He said, "Don't think about getting home, just think of getting to the next town." I couldn't fathom doing the 150+ miles home but I could do 20.
I have never had every muscle in my body ache like that before. It took every ounce of strength just to downshift on the exits. I couldn't lift my arm above my shoulder without wanting to scream. Hour after hour passed and we slowly continued on. We hit Hudson just after 11 pm and stopped to warm up again. We were now just miles from home but I still didn't know if I could physically go another mile. My body was quitting on me as I collapsed against the wall of the gas station. It was then Charley said to me..."You've earned this pain bro". Something about that inspired me. Then I saw Danny Joe laying on his bike like it was a bed. He had a huge smile on his face as he said "I've got some little girls waiting on me at home. Daddy's coming." I was ready now.
I have never been more happy to see Highway 34 in my life. I welled up with frozen tears when I hit the corner at 35th ave. WE MADE IT!!! I checked the time and it was 11:58 pm. Did I mention it was Charley's birthday? He still had 2 minutes to celebrate. My relieved family met me at the door and had a hot shower ready for me. I got a 2 hour nap and made it work for my show.
I learned so much on this trip. I learned that Charley Barnes and Danny Joe Mishoe II are absolute warriors and what men try to be but rarely achieve. I learned that I need a windshield...bad, and I learned that I am capable of things I never dreamed I could do. When i started this series I talked about looking for signs whether I should go or not. There were an overwhelming amount of reasons not to do this but I am convinced I was just being alerted of the obstacles I would need to overcome to get this feeling. I went to Topeka to wave a flag and stand up for my country and I think I was put through the test of giving every last ounce I had and then some, to give me just a little taste of the hell our fighting men and women put themselves through daily. I have an even deeper appreciation. God bless America! Topeka, I'm coming back.