I awoke to another beautiful day in Chattanooga. The forecast looked good for many of the days I was to be on the mission. After driving the truck, I noticed a vibration in my driveshaft which meant I had to replace the u-joints as soon as possible. The added weight and constant accelerations are hard on the drivetrain. I made a plan to accomplish the repair early in the morning after getting started for the day.
I had some burritos on ice left over from yesterday. I am finding that going to pass out food and water was better done after the food kitchen was closed. People who are homeless have limited access to resources after hours which includes water, food, and bathrooms/showers. It is personally frustrating to me that a city so great as Chattanooga is, has only a partial solution to a human living issue. A lot of people are confused as to the best solution. Many people have many different needs. Part of the problem begins by looking at the homeless population – as individual humans who have unique needs. I am simply trying to cover the basics of food and water to provide comfort. However, simple solutions can easily provide a humane living condition for many.
After getting the truck repaired, I headed to the library again to finish up some decals for the truck. To make the mission a success I seek sponsors to help cover some of the costs of the mission. In previous years we used most of the money for fuel, food, and lodging to get the American Flag on the Golden Gate Bridge. This year we used fuel money for food money, and put it in people’s mouths.
I want to thank our personal sponsors and our company sponsors: Olivia Rekoske, Jason Padilla, Zack Chastain, Willie Wilson, David Lightfoot, John Lippincott, and Jason Robinson. Our company sponsors include MTN View Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, and Hudlow Axle. You all made it possible in 2019 to feed and care for those that need it most. We will continue to help people throughout the year as we are able, thank you!
2019 has been quite the year so far! The Fallen 5 Drive is still alive and rolling thank God! I have attended 2 events for the Fallen 5 – the Coker Tire Cruise In at Jordan Park and the Military Kids Serve Too at the Creative Discovery Museum.
At each event I allow kids to get in an start it up. Often they are seen revving the truck to 6,200 RPM with huge grins on their faces! The sound of clean freedom rings out to inspire these little spirits and to honor the Fallen 5! These acts are my medicine that help me in life. I live to serve others, especially those in our communities who deserve it.
As you may know, since getting rear ended in the Blazer of Glory in September of 2018 – my life has changed. I survived a 45 MPG impact and so did the truck. Neither the truck nor I was able to recover as quickly as I had hoped. However, I designed the truck to take such an impact so I and others would survive if there was such an accident.
There are still damages on the truck that need to be fixed although it still drives. It has limped along so far to the short events locally. I will need help fixing it as I have limited resources so reach out with support such a access to a garage and an area to store the truck.
Arriving late in Salina, KS left us in the dark and about to enter a heavy storm. I picked this stop for a propane stop as I mapped out our fuel and sleep stops for the mission. Keep in mind we must travel at least 500 miles a day to keep up with the mission: 5 fuels, 5 days, for the Fallen 5. I must calculate distances for each fuel stop, directions, and distance goals for each day.
Last year we stopped here for propane and the company in Salina, KS named Propane Central filled our tank for free! Awesome people! I wanted to stop and say hello again, but I would have to wait until the morning. The wind and rain made this night of the trip the worst for sleeping and comfort. The wind blew so hard the trap kept ripping off just as I dozed off to sleep. So at about 5:00 am I finally fell asleep for about 2 hours. It was like sleeping in a Wal-Mart bag…horrible!
Once awake and ready to go, Mach and I set out to get propane and coffee and head west. Every time I visit Kansas the people really inspire me with their kindness. All along the journey in Kansas I met so many kind people. Year after year, the people in this state are so nice and makes me look forward to seeing these people. The terrain is flat and grassy, but it is very peaceful. A few times after traveling for so long we would dodge off and travel down a dirt road for a bit either for a break or just to catch up on media and check on the truck. We met some nice cows and got some great pictures before heading toward Colorado.
Last year on this part of the trip I got a bad migraine and altitude sickness so on this day I was sure to hydrate and keep food in me. As I traveled I noticed that there was a tiny home festival in Colorado Springs, CO at the Air Force Academy! I checked the mileage difference between Denver and Co. Springs and decided to spend the night at the Bass Pro Shops with my tiny home friends! Arriving just as it was getting dark I was welcomed in and after a short time Mack and I were tucked into bed. It was cold, windy, and rained, but being among friends far from home was warming enough. Mack and I fell fast asleep after a long day of driving across the plains to the Rockies. In the morning we would awake to the view of the Rockies!
Thank you to our sponsors and contributors for making this mission possible!
On July 16th I drove the Blazer of Glory all over Chattanooga, TN and to Ringgold and Rossville, GA. The community support was amazing! People always waive, honk, and give the thumbs up. It makes me so proud to be a rolling, living, memorial to the Fallen 5. I visited all of the memorial sites dedicated to the Fallen 5 on July, 16th and paid my respects. It was an honor to travel and see all the supporters in the city while in the Blazer of Glory.
I have delayed the departure of our trip to July 30th due to mechanical failure in the rear differential in the Blazer of Glory. Over the course of building the roll cage and rear bumper at Hudlow Axle in the week leading up to leaving, I noticed a small leak and drip from the pinion seal. Sometimes this can be fixed by simply changing the seal, or in this case it needed to be rebuilt. On July 16th I arrived at Hudlow Axle to repair the seal; I changed the outer pinion bearing and crush sleeve in hopes of fixing the problem.
Steve Hudlow, the owner of Hudlow Axle, is one of our supporting sponsors and allowed me to fabricate the roll cage using his tubing bender. His company which I work for several years ago specializes in differentials, gears, driveshafts, transfer cases, and many other specialized drive train services. After driving the Blazer of Glory on July 16th with the intent to leave that day, it was becoming a realization the truck would need a rebuild on the rear differential.
Luckily, I was in good hands again at Hudlow Axle with parts and tools. I performed intense surgery on the Blazer of Glory on July 18th replacing the bearings and races in the carrier and on the pinion. The main gear ratio is 3.73 with open differential carriers. The gear set was certainly worn as well; basically, everything was worn out in the differential in the 46 year old truck! So after replacing the bearings, the pinion seal, and oil I drove the truck some more. The rear differential is a little loud and the overall reliability of the parts is questionable at this point since the truck needs to be test driven more. It blew a faulty pinion seal on the way home from Rossville last night.
Blazer of Glory Maintenance
The best plan for making the mission a success without being stranded is to delay the trip a couple weeks and test the truck. I am disappointed, however the truck is a machine and machines break down. We are lucky to have discovered the worn parts before leaving! I will keep you posted on our progress and thank you for our support!