OK. Now that we're all friends, lets catch up on life! Rick and I exchanged contact information and I was thrilled to get an email from him telling me he was back home from his trip and would love to tell me about it. I couldn't wait to talk to him and hear just how his adventure was! I had told him during our first encounter that I would love to write about his trip and share it on my website. He graciously agreed so I grabbed my clipboard and pen and started taking notes as he talked. I didn't want to miss one word or misquote him so writing down key comments and thoughts was important.
ME: First of all, is this a good time to talk?
RICK: When you are retired there are no bad times.
Right out the gate I am writing down a direct quote that just shows why I love this guy! His spirit and attitude is just amazing. I felt it immediately when I first talked to him at the campground. The next words he said were "It was a WONDERFUL trip but I gotta tell you, it was the HARDEST thing I've done in probably 30 years. But, I LOVED every minute of it. Every day I wanted to quit, but I never really considered it."
Because it was July, the weather was pretty hot. Rick was riding through the Mohave Desert and the temperature was 127 degrees. He got heat exhaustion and was very sick for 3 days. He continued to ride (even on those sickest days), he just started traveling at night instead. Because the temperatures drop significantly at night in the mountains, he ended up getting worse. He spent much of the next few days pulling over to either puke or poop. I cannot imagine being on a motorcycle and having the runs and vomiting every few minutes. I don't want to get graphic for those with weak stomachs (I'm a retired Medic so that is NOT me). I will say that sitting on a motorcycle that is moving/shaking your booty while having gastrointestinal issues just does NOT sound like a good time at all! It was during this most difficult time that he gave thought to quitting. Any reasonable human being would. Don't forget that he was ALONE on this trip so if he ended up passing out, no one would have even been around to help him. Even though these few days were excruciatingly painful, he said that "QUIT was never an option. Oh, I thought about it, but I never considered it."
Wow! Thats deep people. I'm gonna let that sink in for a minute so you can really absorb the magnitude of those words. I thought about it, but I never considered it. When things are really tough in life, some people don't even think about quitting--they just QUIT. Some people think about it for a long time (maybe multiple times throughout the hard period) and then end up quitting right before they reach their goal. Having a thought is not something you have control over. Its human nature to think something without even knowing you are thinking it. Taking the time to CONSIDER something (after having an initial thought) is a very conscious choice. You are now taking action. Choosing NOT to consider the choice of quitting is just as much an action as the actual act of quitting. It is certainly the harder choice and requires even more work than you have already put in. But I guarantee you this. The reward of not considering quitting is FAR greater than the outcome and consequences of actually quitting.
There were some beautiful sights along the way. Some of the most scenic roads in America were on his list. He started in Redding, California and went west to Eureka, picking up the 101 south to San Diego. From there he went up to Interstate 40 and across Arizona and New Mexico to Amarillo. He then headed south to San Antonio and Corpus Christi where I first met him. From there, back to I40 and across more states on his way to Wilmington, Delaware. During this stretch he rode on Highway 129. This is a well known motorcycle and sports car destination. There is an 11 mile stretch (known as the "Tail of the Dragon") that has 318 turns/curves. It is an amazing thrill to experience and according to Rick "vicious"! Its located primarily in Tennessee.
I met Rick in person one time and spent 30 minutes talking with him. I shared a follow up phone conversation over another 70 minutes. 100 minutes of my life could have easily been 100 seconds. I know that's all it takes to make a difference in a life. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to talk to a stranger. A simple smile with your mouth or your eyes is enough to speak volumes. Sometimes, words are not even necessary to have the most effective and important communication. A knowing look or a hug can be all that person needs to feel like they are not alone. We're all on the same road together, some of us are just on a different path.
As you travel down the long and winding road of life, don't forget to pull off on the back roads and take the scenic route. It is on the road less traveled (and usually the one where you took the wrong turn) where you will find the best and right moments.