We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot
I’ve always liked this quote. We used it often in the 1990s to remind ourselves of why we redesign business processes…to get the same or better results in a different, more efficient manner. It came to me at the end of Monday’s very long ride through Olympic National Park as I reflected on that day of leaving and returning to the same place, and began to consider what it will feel like to return home after 47 days on the road. The Olympic Park experience was really a microcosm of my ride around the perimeter of the country with its ins and outs and the trials of running out of gas.
As I wrote yesterday, I’ve enjoyed Lassen Volcanic National Park for decades. (I took the banner and other pictures included in this post on the morning of October 13, 2014, from the peak of Mt Lassen. That strange looking pyramid is the shadow of the mountain in the western atmosphere cast by the sun rising in the east.) Yet, when I returned there Wednesday I experienced it in a new way—influenced by the multitude of inputs I received while riding around the nation. I now have a different, broader context in which to view my surroundings and the people that inhabit them. Lassen Park is even bigger and more magnificent than ever.
I’ve seen the USA from the back roads, from the hearts of people I’ve met along the way. We live in a vast country with a multitude of climates and a very diverse population. I don’t think it’s possible to get a better vision of what and whom we are than by exploring in the open air of a motorcycle, and talking to anyone we meet with abandon. To do the ride solo brings yet another dimension to the experience.
But was I really alone? I don’t think so…
There were simply too many “coincidences” along my journey for me to deny God’s guidance and protection as I meandered along. He gave me strength when I doubted, made me laugh when I needed to, and spoke to me through the people I met along the way.
I will never forget God’s intervention on the morning of Day 7 of Ride the USA, in Sanderson, TX:
“As I rolled southeast towards San Antonio, I noticed a train to my left, sun glistening off its stainless steel roof as it approached the overpass ahead of me. I glanced toward it thinking Bill would have really liked that photo opportunity. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw him wave at me, camera in hand, as he turned around from getting his first photo of the day.”
“Be still, and know that I am God…”
I decided to swing by my cousin, Dianne’s home in Red Bluff this morning on my way home, a little earlier than she was prepared for, to give her a hug and take her picture. I needed to do something today to continue the journey—to connect with family—and I’ve driven by Red Bluff too many times before without stopping. I’m really glad I did so this time.
My granddaughters, Payton and Taylor, were so excited to see me when I rode into the driveway that they had to share in the experience by climbing onto my Harley.
Thanks for being with me these past, nearly seven weeks. The fact that you followed my ride was a constant source of encouragement for which I am grateful.
Special thanks to my wife of 40 years, Lisa, who made sacrifices so I could take this journey and supported me all the way. Thanks also to Dave, my riding buddy/coach who kept tabs on me nearly every day and sent reassurance when I needed it most.
Here are the stats for today, followed by a brief summary of the trip.
God bless you and yours, and God Bless the USA! (Listen to Texas Tenors’ rendition of this great song by Lee Greenwood, forwarded to me by my father-in-law, Lee.)
Route: 44W, Dersch Rd, Ash Creek Rd, Balls Ferry Rd, I5S, I505S, I80W, 37W
Miles Today: 226
Time Today: 4:15
Total Trip Miles: 12,089
Weather: Cloudy in high 50s to low 70s
Lunch: Roberta’s Taqueria, Williams, CA
Dinner: Lisa’s Taco Salad
|Projected Rolling: 213:32
|On the Road: 300:45
National Parks Visited/Ranking:
- Yosemite 3
- Petrified Forest 24
- Carlsbad Caverns 40
- Big Bend 42
- Everglades 20
- Shenandoah Forest 18
- Glacier 10
- Olympic 6
- Lassen Volcanic 37
|Breakfast||Flo’s Café, Grand Coulee, WA, Thursday, July 2, the “NORM”: 1/2 homemade biscuit & gravy, hashbrowns, 2 links sausage, and 2 eggs|
|Lunch||Big D’s Downtown Dive, Roswell, NM, Friday, May 29, “The Tomahawk”: knife and fork style burger on native American fry bread, aged cheddar cheese, red chile, shredded iceberg, tomato and avocado lime mayo|
|Appetizer||Kool Beanz Café, Tallahassee, FL, Wednesday, June 3, buffalo-style alligator tail|
|Dinner||Dish + Drinks at The River Inn, Washington, DC, Friday, June 12, Roasted Pork Chop with sweet potato puree, sautéed haricot verts, almonds, apple demi-reduction|
|Dessert||Shucks!, Abbeville, LA, Monday, June 1, “Sinfully Good Homemade Bread Pudding,”, topped with a hot, white chocolate buttered rum sauce|