When covering more than 300 miles in a day, Run participants rest up when they get the chance. Photo by James V. Carroll

Legacy Run Day 4: The cause hits home

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

8 a.m. - With a temperature of 71 degrees in the air, the Riders depart Minocqua, Wis., first heading up 51 North and then across 2 West.

8:37 a.m. - Legion Riders along 51 North stand at a corner, holding U.S. flags and signs of support for the Run.

9:15 a.m. - A black squirrel runs across the road, prompting a conversation about their naturally adversarial relationship with the red squirrel. Jim Carroll swears that the black squirrel is responsible for bringing the red squirrel to near-extinction; we can find no proof of this on Wikipedia. Jim does not relent.

9:35 a.m. - Wisconsin Legionnaires from Post 25 in Odanah and from Post 90 in nearby Ashland await the Run's gas stop in Odanah. Donuts, cookies and coffee also await the riders. "This is quite a coup for up north to have this group come through," says Post 90 Commander Frank Kostka, a Legion Rider. "Not just this group of motorcycles, but this group of American Legion veterans riding for such a worthwhile cause." The Legion families of both posts present National Commander Jimmie L. Foster with checks totaling more than $800 for the Legacy Fund.

9:41 a.m. - I walk into the convention center portion of the Bad River Casino & Lodge near the stop. It's the home of Post 25. The hallway outside the convention center is lined with photos of dozens of veterans. "We chose this location over having a building," Post 25 Commander James Huesman says. "It's got all the amenities we need."

9:55 a.m. - While the riders are refueling, videographer Derek Tow tries to fill up one of our tires with air. A light on the dashboard has been telling us it's low for two days. Seemed OK to me. Meanwhile, there are no Old Dutch potato chips in the convenience store. Duluth, Minn., should be able to provide some. They are, in fact, the best potato chips on earth.

11:03 a.m. - We see a bald eagle flying on the side of the road. Jim laments that he has yet to see a moose.

Noon - We pass over a big bridge on 2 West into Minnesota. Always a good feeling.

12:17 - Arrive at Post 71 in Duluth, where the riders will be served a lunch of pulled pork, baked beans, chips and pickles.

12:41 - Minnesota's Eighth District commander, Carl Hendrickson, is at the event. "It means a lot to this district," he says. "It gives us some nice exposure. And it's pretty neat to see the number of riders not only giving up their time, but also their finances, to be a part of this."

12:55 - It's not easy preparing for a Legacy Run stop. "We had to make arrangements for parking, and we needed to make sure we enough food for, what, 350 or so people," acting Post 71 Commander Brad Thompson says. "We needed to have key people in key places. We've been working on this for months, but it's been a pleasure. It's a pleasure to have these people stop here."

1:23 p.m. - It's another strong day of donations. More than $12,000 is raised during the stop, bringing the Run total to $232,078.27.

5:45 p.m. - The Run arrives at Carl Sydney Hansen Post 255 in Brainerd. Winds that started at 15 miles per hour and got higher hounded the riders all day, but Sammy Granderson of Post 284 in Colonial Heights, Va., says it simply takes some minor adjustments. "I've been riding for awhile, so I'm used to it," he says. "I just laid into it and kept both hands on the handlebars. It was beautiful country, though." It's the last night of the ride, and Granderson will head home after the riders get to Minneapolis tomorrow. "You have mixed feelings about it," he says. "The people here you ride with, you really get to know them better. On the last night, you reminisce about the last four or five days."

6:20 p.m. - For Post 255 Commander Chris Spieker, the Legacy Fund hits close to home. He's full-time National Guard and has been in for 23 years. "I've probably known a few families who would benefit from this fund," he says. "It does help. When I go around town after you guys leave and tell people why you came through, they're going to think that's really nice." Spieker spent almost an hour greeting riders as they entered Post 255. "I probably shook hands with two-thirds of them," he says. "We were very excited, but we didn't know what to expect. Once you got here, we sort of calmed down a bit."

6:32 p.m. - After dinner - spaghetti and meat balls, served with garlic bread - donations total more than $11,000; the Riders from American Legion Post 21 in The Colony, Texas, donate more than $7,000. Heading into the final day, the Run has raised more than $243,000.

Day 5 (Thursday, Aug. 25) This is it. We head out at 8 a.m. One gas stop is all that stands between the Run and its final destination - American Legion Post 455 in Minneapolis. I'm tired, but it's the good tired. And Minneapolis - just minutes from where I was born - always seems to energize me. Good thing , too - convention coverage gets underway Friday.

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