It’s been a surreal week full of ups and downs but it’s been nothing short of miraculous in many ways. Myself and everyone involved have been blessed and touched. It began on Sunday, June 30th, at Miami Shores Presbyterian Church. Another powerful and inspiring sermon from Rev. Hallie Hottle, a moving and funny look through the morning’s papers with Rev. Dudley Rose, a laying on of hands by the whole church (we all came together as a family to unite in one cause and it was a brilliant moment for everyone), music provided by the talented MSPC band, food trucks, a ton of hugs, smiles all round, photos, celebrating, people writing their dreams on colorful strips of ribbon to be placed on the church (send your all-time dream to MSPC and help build a massive art project of dreams), a purple start line and MIle Marker 0 created by the Youth Group. I broke through the start line at a little after noon, escorted by two police cars through Miami Shores and red lights.
Videos taken at the send-off
Mile Marker 0
Hallie’s send-off speech
The Start, as seen from the helmet cam on the motorbike
The newspaper article in the Miami Herald Neighbors section about the ride can be read by clicking on this link: Miami Herald newspaper article
Since then it’s been a God-filled journey.
Day #1 – made it to Jacksonville. MSPC member Lisa Sullivan put me in contact with her friend John Sinclair who made me very welcome in his house. We talked all night. A great person who has dreams of owning his own food truck and taking it across the United States. It rained on and off on Day #1, from around Boca all the way to Jacksonville.
Day #2 – hung out in Jacksonville for a while. Again, Lisa Sullivan sent me on a a couple of side missions. I was more than happy to oblige. With no exact route or itinerary planned I began to realize that there is no wrong turn on this journey. And even though some calamities have occurred, they still have not been “wrong turns”, they’ve been “very right turns”. Side mission #1 was to visit Riverside Presbyterian Church and meet with Pastor Steve Goyer. I did. We spoke for a while. I told him of my journey. He asked me questions. We prayed together. I think he was either kind of skeptical or taken-aback by my appearance at his church. Who knows. Then side mission #2: meet Lisa’s friend Christina for coffee in one of the best coffee shops in town. Christina and her daughter Stella arrived and we talked for a while. I’m sure it was needed. Christina recently split from her husband and it’s all fresh and raw, and I am sure needed to feel people around her in support. I hope we made a difference (“we” = God, myself and everyone involved in this journey. I may use “we” quite a bit in future writings). I’m sure we did make a difference. And then I headed towards Savannah, Georgia where I bedded down in a Motel 6 for the night. It rained all day on Day #2.
Day #3 – It rained nearly all day. Sight-seeing cut down to zero. But, never mind– sight seeing is secondary on this journey. The people I meet are primary. I made it to Augusta, Georgia where I stayed with Roger and Melissa. Before I arrived at their house I stopped at the Augusta Triumph store, which turned out to be closed for the week. A lady in a white truck pulled up and said, “they moved”. She told me her name was Ellen and was the owner’s wife. Her husband was a block down the road working at the new store. His name is Tom Clancy (not the author, although Tom does have some fun signing autographs once in a while). I had stopped to get some rain gear because my trousers turned out not to be waterproof. I bought some waterproof pants and I was dry after that. Roger and Melissa are the salt of the earth. They were very generous. Loved to cook and eat. Roger is a Staff Sargeant in the Army, he plays bass guitar. Melissa is very wise and obviously really loves God. She was in a wheelchair for five years and then was at church one day and heard the call to the altar. She heard a voice say, “Get up now, or you will never get up.” She got up and walked to the altar. Now that’s a miracle. I felt very much like I was supposed to be in their home. That God had taken me there.
Day #4 – It rained all day. No sight seeing. (Do you sense a recurring theme yet?) The goal from leaving Augusta was to get to Danna Flowers (couch surfing) in Johnson City, TN. That’s a 247 mile journey. I only made it 157 miles and then I got a puncture. Once, in the middle of nowhere the bike sputtered and stopped in the heavy rain. I got it started again about 10 minutes later. I carried on. Continuous rain and sometimes it was heavy. I made it to South Carolina, and then I made it to North Carolina. I only made it 2 miles past the North Carolina Welcome Center and then the bike sputtered out again in the heavy rain. Perhaps 10 minutes later she started again. I pulled out onto the expressway. I did so quickly to get up to speed with the traffic. The back wheel skated on the tarmac from side to side under me. I thought I’d hit a patch of oil. I straightened her out and kept on going for perhaps a half mile and the back end started to snake more violently. What was that? I pulled off the expressway again and looked at the back tire. To my amazement it was completely flat. I called Progressive Insurance for a two truck. Multiple calls, lots of texts from family, MSPC family, Danna Flowers, and Facebook messages from people in Miami kept me going. I stood by the expressway in the pouring rain, at the top of the North Carolina mountains for 5 hours, until 10:30pm. After dark was very disconcerting. The tow truck drove me to Danna’s friend’s house– Craig Cox in Weaverville. I got there almost at midnight. He poured me scotch and made me an egg sandwich. Lo and behold he greeted me wearing a Triumph hat, he had two Triumphs in the garage, and he knew how to work on them. After the agony of standing in the rain for 5 hours, his house was a God-send. Wonderful! What are the chances of being towed to a stranger’s house and he’s a Triumph aficionado?
Day #5 – July 4th. Happy Independence Day! It rained most of the day. Everything was closed. But guess what? I was in a warm and beautiful house, with a stranger changing my tire, who roped in another friend to help (who just happen to work at the Triumph dealership in town) who had all the right tools. Craig Cox and Blair Harris to the rescue! Oddly, Blair’s mother’s name was the same as my mother’s name, and her other son is named Andrew. Craig, Blair and Trish were all lovely people who saved me a lot of trouble and money. They also saved me on July 4th! What are the chances of getting your bike fixed on a national holiday when everything is closed? I’d call it miraculous. We fixed the puncture and got the bike back on the road… in the rain… which made Craig laugh because it hadn’t rained in a while, until I got close to the bike. I rode to Danna Flowers house– my original destination planned for the night before. I rode through the Tennessee mountains in more rain. My ears popped on the way. When I came down the other side of the mountains the sky began to clear, the mist and rain disappearing. I arrived at 6pm. Danna and her boyfriend, Norman, cooked chicken, broccoli, the best pesto sauce in the world, and corn on the cob. We sat on the car porch talking about her friend, Tommy Danger, who ran from Seattle to Daytona for cystic fibrosis. Tommy is a dynamo. We talked about raising money for charity and I told them what I was doing on the ride. Danna told me about a clinic for breast cancer screening that she opened in Manila in her free time (vacation from work). In the background– the sound of fireworks rising in the sky.
Day #6 – A long ride of 407 miles, 10 hours, to Columbus, Ohio. My next stop– Gregory Young’s house. Greg is another person I had found a place to stay with via the Couch Surfing network. It rained for half the day. I discovered that my rain jacket was beginning to disintegrate. I’ve owned it a week. There’s been a lot of rain and usage. Another lovely house to stay in. Unbelievable. What a series of blessings. Greg is a fellow motorcycle enthusiast and the same age as myself. We sat on the back patio talking of motorcycle stories, camping, music and children. Children… Greg lost his daughter to suicide last year. It’s not been long. He hibernated in the house for 9 months. He only just begun to come out. I am sure that I visited him for a reason. I know God cares about Greg and sent me as a visitor. It’s more than myself that was sent– there’s a whole bunch of followers to this journey that now have Greg in their thoughts and prayers. Greg’s a good guy. He needs a break. He needs people rallying around him in an extremely difficult hour of need. He’s coping admirably. I feel honored and happy that he’s come out of his understandable hibernation and invited me into his home. Invited all of us into his life, in a way.
Day #7 – Saturday. A 200-mile ride to northern Detroit City to stay with my old friends Treger and Rob. It rained for half the day. The amount of rain has definitely begun to decrease. Back in the 2000’s I we all worked together in the advertising world in Miami. Detroit has been good to these two good people. They both own their respective companies, live in a beautiful house, with two beautiful children. Treger founded and owns Humble Design– a non-profit organization that furnishes homes for people coming out of shelters and homelessness. It’s a remarkable venture that began with one house and one family. Humble Design has grown and has furnished and provided homes now for over 260 families. These are families that were previously living out of shopping carts or plastic bags. These are people that are often well educated but ran up against some hard times, i.e. you and me possibly. Treger and her company gives them a new start in life and helps way beyond just providing a furnished home– they help with jobs and social services and much more. The furniture is all donated to the cause by the public. The cost is about $1200 to furnish a single home for a family. Humble Design needs your donations to be able to keep doing this. They are a 5-star rated charity and 98% of donations are used to help the families. When children enter their new homes they don’t play with the toys first. The first thing they always do is go to the bed. The bed is the best thing to them. They haven’t had one before. It always ends in tears… of joy.
It’s been a miracle-filled week. Stressful at times. Miami and Facebook followers have kept me going at times. At other times it’s been God who’s pulled out all the stops and shown me that He’s here, along for the ride, making sure that’s it’s not totally easy… because He has things to show me… reassurances, companionship and promises.
One man, a 503-day solo journey on a motorcycle. 82,459 miles across 22 countries in both North and South America. What a video! Totally inspirational and gets me revved up for my own journey. Enjoy!