Legacy Run Day 3: One kilt = $806

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Legacy Run Day 3: One kilt = $806
Photo by James V. Carroll

American Legion Multimedia Editor Steve B. Brooks will be chronicling the Legacy Run for the second straight year.

6:22 a.m. - My suspicions are confirmed. The somewhat off smell of the van is being caused by my running shoes. They're still wet this morning. And 25 minutes later, they're even wetter. Oh well.

8 a.m. - Riders leave the Kewadin Casino. It's 65 degrees out, a 16-degree difference from Monday morning. Almost zero humidity. I would imagine these are close to perfect conditions.

9:45 a.m. - Arrive at the Shell gas station in Manistique for the gas stop. National Commander Jimmie L. Foster does television interviews with two Michigan TV stations - TV 6 out of Marquette and ABC 10 out of Ishpeming. Talks about the Run and it's cause.

10 a.m. - Run arrives at gas station. Several members of Post 83 in Manistique are there to support the refueling team, including Past Post Commander Dick Ketcik. "This is just great, unbelievable," he says. "Having them come through here is great." Manistique resident Beverly Marks, who has no Legion connection, also is there to wave a flag. "I have a brother who lost both legs in Vietnam," she says. "I wanted to be out here."

10:21 a.m. - We pull over along West U.S. 2 just outside of Manistique to get photos and videos of the riders with Lake Michigan in the background. At the top of a hill that is mostly sand sits a solitary blue chair. I climb the hill, then sit in the chair. For absolutely no reason, other than the fact it's there. When I get back down the hill, I have about a half of a cup of sand in each of my Sperry Topsiders. Well worth it. And Lake Michigan makes a gorgeous back-drop for the Run.

11:48 a.m. - Legionnaires from Post 301 in Rapid River, Mich., are holding signs and standing along the street cheering on the Run.

11:15 a.m. - Everything Donnie Darko and Mr. Peabody said was true. Time travel is possible. I've traveled back an hour. Or we've gone from Eastern to Central Time. I think the former is much more interesting.

11:35 a.m. - A half dozen people are holding flags and clapping their hands as the Run passes through Powers Village.

12:08 p.m. - Michigan State Police escort the run to the gas stop in Iron Mountain, Mich.

12:27 p.m. - Dennis Namanny of Post 22 in Rapid City, S.D., is riding in his first Legacy Run. "I have a friend (John Fleming) who's ridden on all of them, and he asked me to be in this one," Namanny says. "It's been fantastic." But today's ride - mostly covering two-lane highways and going through patches of construction - has been quite a bit different than Sunday's and Monday's voyages up U.S. highways. "It's a little more complicated," he says. "It's a lot more slow down and speed up. You've got to check your corners and look for rough road. It's an all-eyes situation."

1:19 p.m. - Arrive at Upper Peninsula Veteran War Memorial Park atop Pine Mountain in Iron Mountain. In addition to the beautiful memorial, the mountain also is home to the tallest (120 meters) ski jump in North America. I get about two-thirds of the way up it before realizing a tumble back down might not be in my best interests.

1:26 p.m. - Post 50 Legionnaires are hosting the event and stand throughout the park, waving flags. Flags also are placed throughout the park, donated by the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center. National Vice Commander John Mella, a member of Post 50, was thrilled when he found out the Run would make a stop through his town. "It's an honor," he says. "When I found out they were going through here, I was really excited. When I found out we were going to host an event, I was really impressed."

1:46 p.m. - The riders arrive and are fed a meal of brats, hot dogs, sauerkraut, Coney sauce, chips and baked beans. Local resident Jeff Cowell plays guitar during lunch - I was particularly pleased with his cover of "Paint It Black" - and afterward, more than $10,000 is donated toward the Legacy Fund, bringing the total to more than $216,000.

1:56 p.m. - Among the donations was $806 raised by Bob Couch of Post 24 in Blytheville, Ark. He's participated in all six Runs, and every year he's done something a little wacky to raise money while on the ride. Like he did in 2009 from West Virginia to Louisville, Ky., Couch decided to wear a kilt during the morning ride from Mt. Pleasant to Manistique. "Last night, people were betting that was I wasn't going to wear it," Couch says. "Within 20 minutes I'd raised $510 alone. This morning, everyone pitched in for the rest." Couch was a bit nervous; the forecast called for temps in the 50s at departure. But Mother Nature took pity on Couch; when we left this morning, it was a pleasant 65. "It was a little cool," he says. "The seat of my bike was a bit dewy, there was a bit of a knees breeze. But it was worth it." Before I walk away, I have to ask: "Why do you own a kilt, Bob?" "Scottish heritage," he says. Makes sense.

2:10 p.m. - Depart Veterans Memorial Park. Now behind the wheel, I control the music again. Am rewarded with The Killers, Interpol and U2 within the first 15 minutes. God bless you, SiriusXM.

5:35 p.m. - Arrive at beautiful Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wis. Its 60 acres feature handicapped-accessible cabins, along with dining, recreation and physical therapy facilities. It serves approximately 400 injured and disabled veterans each summer, and also has begun focusing on working with veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress. The Department of Wisconsin runs the camp and leases the land from the state; it's done so since 1925.

5:40 p..m. - Camp Director Kevin Moshea, a member of Post 318 in Lake Tomahawk, stands in a yellow rain coat. Earlier in the day, it was pouring, but now it seems to be done for the night. Perfect timing. "This is an incredible event, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us," Moshea says.

5:45 p.m. - Riders begin arriving and are fed a spread that consists of brats and kraut, hamburgers, chicken, three kinds of salads, potatoes, two kinds of baked beans, chips and dessert. Local singer/songwriter Jason Moon, a former camp attendee and disabled Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, sings during dinner.

6:05 p.m. - While he's waiting in the chow line, I talk to Verlin Abbott of Carmel, Ind., Post 155. Abbott has an interesting role with the Run. "I'm just a little additional security," he says. "If we get to an area where we don't have enough volunteers or don't have local police support, it's my job to stop traffic and keep things safe." Abbott has started out on five previous runs; a tire problem and mechanical issues sidelined him on two of those. When I double-check with, "So this will be your fourth finished run, right?" I knock on the wooden picnic table next to me.

6:15 - Stop to talk with Department of Wisconsin Adjutant Dave Kurtz about the camp. He hopes what the riders see at the camp travels back across the country with them. "It's just a natural for those guys to stop here," he says. "I hope this is something that they may bring back to their departments and say, ‘This is something we can do.'"

6:27 p.m. - I watch a rider feed a chipmunks whole peanuts in the shell. The chipmunks take the peanuts out of his hand and shove them into their mouths. One is able to get three in at a time. Eats like some people I know.

6:52 p.m. - As dinner is wrapping up, Moshea tells the riders, "You are a visible extension of this camp. All of you, essentially, are doing what Camp American Legion does. You are out there serving our active duty and our veteran men and women in the same ways."

6:57 p.m. - Foster receives another $3,561 in donations, bringing an end to a 13-hour day. We're now at $219,918.29 with two days to go. These riders know what they're doing.

9:48 p.m. - Get a call from the wife. Dog got sprayed by a skunk. No tomato juice in the house, so she used diced tomatoes to get the smell out. Seemed to work, she said.

Until tomorrow ...

Day 4 (Wednesday, Aug. 24) Departure is once again at 8 a.m., with a lunch stop at Duluth, Minn., Post 71., followed by a stop at Brainerd Post 255 for dinner. I stayed at a resort near Brainerd one time back in the ‘90s. The main lodge burned down while I was there.

For constantly updated photos of this year's Legacy Run, click here.

 

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