Six things on my “bucket list” and what I’m crossing off next week

Lots of us have a thing called a “bucket list,” those experiences we wish to have before we pass on from this life. And I’m no different.

I’m hoping to visit the beaches of Normandy and walk the hallowed ground where men endeavored to free an entire continent from the scourge of Nazism.

I want to travel to Greece and stand upon the sacred ground called “The Hot Gates,” Thermoplylae, and pay respect to the memory of King Leonidas and his brave 300 Spartans who made a stand for freedom against tyranny and servitude.

I want to dive the famous “Blue Hole” in Belize.

I want to run my hometown Atlanta’s Peachtree 10K Road Race which ends up in Piedmont Park right across the street from Grady High where I graduated.

One dream that was on my bucket list, I’ve already crossed off: a visit to the Holy Land and see the place where my Lord and Savior was born, traveled, died, and rose again — truly a wonderful spiritual experience.

This week I will embark on Thursday morning, heading west, to begin another experience on my bucket list: riding my motorcycle cross-country from sea to shining sea.

As the iconic song “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates goes (yes, I prefer it sung in English):

“Oh beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesty above the fruited plain,
America, America, God shed His grace on thee,
And crowned thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.”

Along with about 200 other riders, I will start the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America for the Victory Junction Children’s Camp. I will get the distinct honor to see my country, America, from sea to shining sea, from the clear view of my motorcycle.

I want to give a special shout out to George and DeDe Cable of Cable Marine in Ft. Lauderdale who are sponsoring my participation in the event. I am so looking forward to meeting Kyle Petty and thanking him for the pleasure of being a part of his great cause, and great ride across America.

So Thursday, Angela and I will fly out to California where we start the ride in Carlsbad and she’ll see me off on Saturday, May 3rd.

And here is our route, which you can see and follow here.

Saturday May 3 — Carlsbad CA to Tucson AZ
Sunday May 4 — Tucson AZ to Las Cruces NM
Monday May 5 — Las Cruces NM to Midland TX
Tuesday May 6 — Midland TX to Austin TX
Wednesday May 7 — Austin TX to Beaumont TX
Thursday May 8 — Beaumont TX to New Orleans LA
Friday May 9 — New Orleans LA to Tallahassee FL
Saturday May 10 — Tallahassee FL to Daytona Beach FL

If you’re around, I’d love to see you anywhere along the route as we make our trek. I’ll be writing a daily recap here on about what I experience so you can see America the Beautiful through my eyes.

I’ve traveled to many parts of America, and hope this will not be my last time to traverse our nation — maybe Maine to Florida next time. This journey, and its cause, will serve as a reminder as to why I am a “Guardian of the Republic.”

And oh, by the way, for all you naysayers, dissenters — and some haters — who want to attack my 2005 Honda VTX 1800N motorcycle? Silly me, I thought I had the unalienable right as an American individual for the freewill to decide upon my own “pursuit of happiness.”

Remember, only socialists coerce individuals into abdicating their freewill to the collective group think for the empty promise of a “guarantee of happiness.” Although, since this trip is on my bucket list, I’m looking forward to a guarantee of happiness next week!


  1. Good luck, that’s going to be a great trip! No worries on the Honda, I’ve got an 11′ long, all American made Chopper, and 2 Yamaha Roadstars in my stable, all built by my hands. I wrote off HD long ago, when my first Harley jacket said “Made in Pakistan” inside the collar.

  2. The VTX is a great bike , I have ridden my friends we went on a day ride around MT. Hood here in Portland. We traded bikes for the middle leg of the trip he was on my Shadow 750 A.C.E. before he rode mine he thought the VTX would be so much faster and more powerful although it is faster and has more power he was surprised as to the minimal difference.

  3. I have 75,000 miles on my VTX, bought it brand new with .2 miles on it.
    A couple years after buying it, I rode to Marysville, Ohio and watch them make VTX’s right in the factory!!

  4. On my bucket list: Ride with Allen West, the only politician whose life I follow and stories I enjoy hearing! Have a safe ride brother, I hope you have perfect weather.

  5. Normandy, yes, weep and remember all those young people . It is the 70th anniversary this year and the celebrations are, I think, June 5th and 6th. I hope to get there.. I wish you could be there too. My husband and I were kids but we remember those days as if they were yesterday. Thank you , and all those others for your service to The World and to our own personal liberation.

  6. What time will you be in Carlsbad on Saturday, sir? I’d love to meet you and shake your hand! Regards from a USMC Veteran.

  7. A worthy cause to be riding and seeing our great land, and won’t ditch your bike. I have done the trip multiple times in various vehicles and convertibles so know the kind of country you will see which will always be Beautiful and FREE!!! God bless you and may your trip be clear skies and smooth…

  8. Safe Ride, Colonel. Ignore the “haters” — As I used to tell my MSF students “I care about HOW you ride much more that WHAT you ride.” I’ve ridden motos from all over the world, and my all time favorite one was Italian (a Moto Guzzi). I’m really happy with my Road King Police and my old super-glide, too. But I learned to ride, 45 years ago on Hondas, among others, and Hondas made in America are just fine with me. Hope God my grant us the blessing of meeting up on the road sometime. s/”Top” Lucas (Still serving proudly @ USSOUTHCOM)

  9. VTX is a fantastic bike. I have been riding one since 2005, and I have never missed a days ride because of repairs. Wouldn’t trust any other bike for a cross country run!

  10. Have driven across the USA several times and ( when I was younger and stupider) hitchhiked across the country. Enjoy the trip and the fellowship. My bucket list includes landing a 1000 lb Marlin and I would be truly honored if you would join me one day in that quest.

  11. May you all have a Safe ride. I have traveled to all of the lower 48 States and the one thing that stands out is that each area of America has its own Flavor so to speak. I hope you get a taste of the different flavors of American people. I still remember the first time I traveled to New York City. I was at a traffic light and silly me being from the South, I stuck my head out the window and asked the crowds of people walking across directions. Needless to say those people looked at me like I was crazy lol. If you are in New Orleans and meet a native you might be asked “How you be done, done” that means hello.

  12. Texas is Big. I see you are there for a few day’s. What is like 942 miles of I-10 from El Paso to Beaumont or Orange in the east? Beaumont to NOLA is an easy ride but you have some long ones especially when you start out. I’ll bet you’re 4th point of contact gets sore from that ride. Best of luck to you.

    • Nearly 853 miles. about 878 from the NM border to the LA border. I-10 all the way.

      The first thing you see when crossing from NM to TX on I-10 is a green sign

      “Beaumont 853 miles”. No brag, just fact.

  13. Nothing’s wrong with your ride. I’m in a MC and about half of us ride metrics. Enjoy the ride and the country. My only complaint is that y’all aren’t coming through Reno. We have thousands of bikers here (home of street vibrations) who would love to see you and join in. Maybe next year. Be safe!

  14. A VTX is made in America…in Ohio… and American Honda employs THOUSANDS of Americans. I bought one of the first 1800s in 2002 and loved it…so did my wife and it ended up being hers! I’ve also owned two Goldwings…great dependable bikes. What is important is that you ride…not what you ride. By the way, I ride a 2014 Harley Electraglide Classic now…and love all GOOD bikes.

  15. Congressman, you are way too young to have a “Bucket List”! However, since you’ve already made up your mind to have one, I hope you have a great ride. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the scenery, and keep us posted along the way.

  16. I am a son of an Omaha beach warrior. Have owned lots of different bikes. Hondas trumpets beemers and 11 Harleys (1 pan 8 evos 1 twin cam and now a 75 shovel rat. Never liked unionized harley who won’t even admit they built a shovel. Treat you like a stepchild if you ask them for info or parts.But they love you when you pay 35k. Don’t care for the throw away twin cams especially. Mine’s rebuildable with points. EMP won’t stop me! I drive a Honda element, best car I’ve owned. Honda bike has more American parts and precise engineering than harley will ever have. I’d be honored to ride beside you any day sir. But… I would have to do a rebuild somewhere on that trip you’re takin’. Lol. God Bless Great American!

  17. Safe and fun travels Colonel!
    I have had the absolute pleasure of driving x-country 6 times and the images, the sights, the sounds and the amazing people of our America have informed my love for this great country.

    • I remember liking Kawasakies because a boy that I had a crush on, wore a Kawasaki t-shirt. Enjoy your ride when you take one, Roy!

  18. IF your interested, We might be able to get a few of VFW motorcycle Group 10 to join you. We meet on Friday Nights at the Round Rock Tavern in Round Rock Texas.

  19. Lt Col West, that sounds awesome! And MUCH BETTER than the bumpy road obama has us all on. Hope you continue riding his azzz about it!

  20. LTC West, you’ll know us when you see us; we will be the ones standing along the roadside waiving the American flag…because of men like you and those who stormed the beaches of Normandy, WE CAN!

  21. Godspeed, Sir. Oh, the VTX is an AWESOME bike–my first one was a 1300. Truly an amazing ride. Who cares what you ride as long as you ride.

  22. Col. West, always remember, it’s not what you ride, it’s that you ride! I’m a long time Harley owner and I could care one wit less that you ride a metric cruiser. Stay safe out there and keep two wheels down and your face in the wind. I happen to be leaving Indianapolis, IN on Friday, May 2th headed on my bike to see my brother in Austin, TX. I’ll be in Austin when you come through there. I’d be honored to meet the crew at your departure point and ride for a while with ya’ll on the way out of town.

  23. Allen, strongly recommend making first Normandy visit in high winter when it’s empty, cold – and empty – and just let the place talk to you, and imagine what 6-10JUN was like. Then go near the actual date, or a tour. You’ll already have heard Norman COTA telling off the Ranger captain, “Lead the way, Ranger.” /// The Hot Gates, go man – it was well worth it. Don’t let any local guides get behind you. /// The ‘turn left and go to the Left Coast Half-Ironbutt’ = good fun. Sit on gel, or an Airhawk cushion. Probably still selling Anti-Monkey Butt Powder out of Andy Goldfine’s Aerostich catalog – you still have a paper copy don’t you? 800.222.1994. If that’s too obscure, just get the thing. Better gear doesn’t exist. On a cruiser, you need better. Godspeed, Korpsbruder . . .

  24. Have a safe ride and enjoy yourself and fellow riders…….Oh, and please add “Run for President” to your bucket list !!

  25. Several years ago, I was talking with an old friend who had been in the D-Day action as a teenager. I asked him if he had ever thought about going back to see the beaches again. He told me “No, I don’t want to go back there, I just close my eyes and I can see it all over again.” This was over sixty years after D-Day. I am glad to hear that Col. West is going there, he will show respect and gratitude for their bravery and courage on that horrible day….

  26. Wish you Godspeed on your trip! Thank you for your service in the military and your representing us in Congress. Be safe!

  27. Do enjoy your trip, and stay safe. What a marvelous trip. As a young Captain, I once drove, in a sports car, from Newport News, VA to Palo Alto, CA alone. Fortunately, I did not learn until later that “women did not do that kind of thing” in that time.

  28. Sir, I’m in Austin and would be more than honored to ride down with you. Time and place and I’ll be there.


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