I’m often asked about the most memorable moments from my solo motorcycle ride around the perimeter of the country. There were many; the coastal views along the Overseas Highway to Key West, the raw emotion of the 9-11 Memorial in New York City, the power of Niagara Falls, the majestic Avenue of Giants in the Redwoods National Forest, the quirky artwork of the Enchanted Highway in Montana and the vast landscape of the Algodones Dunes in California.
But what made the journey a life-changing experience were the remarkable people I met along the way. Two WWII veterans remembering acts of courage at Pearl Harbor and Normandy over a Sunday morning breakfast in New Orleans. A homeless Vietnam veteran in Norfolk who asked nothing for himself, but hoped America wouldn’t abandon its returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. A young man in Billings, Montana sharing the story of his brother, a decorated combat Ranger who became one of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day in our country. An Army Dad at a roadside rest stop who wanted to give me gas money; his son was deployed overseas serving in harm’s way.
Their stories sustained me across 32 days, 34 states and 13,000 miles riding alone through wicked thunderstorms, scorching heat, a mountain wildfire and the constant deluge of assorted bugs, dirt and grime. Their influence made all the difference, every day and in every way. And it continues.