‘merica

Over the fourth of July I left my bike in the garage and took the truck to one of favorite summer time destinations; the Swan Drive In.

Drive In’s were an integral part of my childhood.  I still remember my mom and dad packing the car, getting me and my sister in our jammies, and outfitting us with all the snacks and blankets we could handle in the backseat.  It was a fun and affordable way to entertain our family of four.  We had two within thirty minutes of our house.  They’re both extinct now, but I remember seeing everything from Disney movies, to horror flicks at those wonderful places.  IMG_6185

I’m fortunate enough to live within an hour of two remaining drive in’s.  The Swan, in Blue Ridge Georgia is our preferred destination.  It’s been there since 1955, is still family run, and serves deep fried Oreos (I think you need to sign a waiver).   IMG_0072

When my daughters were a few years younger we’d pack them into my pick up, and fill the back with picnic supplies, and a gymnastic mat.  When we got to the drive in, we’d pull the truck in backwards, tune the radio to the FM low power broadcast for sound (the speakers on poles are long gone), and eat, and play frisbee, and dance, and wait for the movie to start.

I remember one night when my wife and I were hiding in the cab from the rain, and watching the movie in the mirrors, but my girls and their friends refused to come in.  They were blanketed up and packed in like sardines, but they were watching a movie and munching on soggy popcorn – and happy.

Happy birthday, America!  Happy times for this gang of friends enjoying a slice of the past.

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Thanksgiving 2017

I’ve been away from this blog for some time.  Life has been moving along.

The blog originally began as a way to log my bucket list ride from coast to coast across the United States.    Each year I try to mark off another item from that list because life is short.  Just to catch everyone up and remind myself here’s a quick recap…

2017 – Own an Indian Motorcycle

2016 – Motorcycle Ride across the United States

2015 – Hike the length of the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail

2014 – Enter a BBQ cooking competition (I won!)

This year’s bucket list item came about by accident.  Literally.  On March 25 while stopped in traffic my old bike was removed from under me.  It was an opportunity to go shopping for a bike I’ve been dreaming about since before I was even a rider.

Although I didn’t get to take a long trip this year, I did manage to get out for a few nights here and there with some friends and try out my new wheels.  Good rides.  Good times.

Right now, I’m sitting in my comfy chair at 10:30 am, with the Macy’s parade playing on my TV and I’m still in my jammies sipping coffee.  My daughters are both here.  My wife and I have had our first few cups of coffee and talked about the precision needed to schedule the baking of pies, turkey’s and side dishes and have each of them be ready close to the same time.

We’ve all talked about Christmas, and what our plans are to spend it together.  This scares me a little.  My girls are ages 21 and 17.  I know my time with them grows more scarce and precious each year.

Everyday is a good day to be thankful.  Each one of us has been given so much more than we deserve.  Each one of us has the ability to bless others with the overflow of our own lives.  Each one of us has the opportunity to humble ourselves before our creator and realize what a miracle our next breath is.

Today I am full.  Not because of the turkey…yet.  I’m rolling under a wave of gratitude for the opportunity to walk beside the most wonderful people who have ever lived.  I’ve been given the opportunity to know caring people, talented people, gifted people, loving people, humble people, and people who have struggled through life while still keeping a heart able to hope in the future.  I’m grateful to the point of breathlessness for laughter, and music, and comfort.  I’m overwhelmed by God’s ability to show me where I need to be a better man, and then guide me toward that path because I do not have any idea how to get there on my own.

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the United States.  And happy thankfulness and full hearts to all of us everywhere.

 

It doesn’t get any better

Father’s Day 2017

4 hours of riding through North Georgia. 

A quick stop for a terrific smoked pulled pork sandwich and a sweet tea. 

Arrive home to both daughters and my wife. 

Grilled rib-eyes, baked potatoes, sweet corn, and carrot cake. 

Watching the sun go down as I sip bourbon and smoke the cigar I’d been saving for a very special occasion. 

God, if heaven offers even more than this, how will I be able to stand it?

Good Days

The last week has been fun.  Everything from friends celebrating my new ride with me, IMG_5451to co-workers grabbing rides to lunch meetings,IMG_5444 to a ride today with my brother-in-law.

This morning started by seeing my 17 year old off to take her ACT’s.  It felt like another string was cut on the way to launching her out to her own life and family.  Don’t get me wrong, I want her to be her own person and have her own life apart from my values and authority… but the sound of each one of those snapping strings that have tied her life to mine from before she was born… well, it’s not an easy process for any of us, is it?

Then I went to get my brother-in-law back out on the road.  We’ve ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway together, and gone on some day trips around North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  Lately, however, he’s been sidelined a lot from a bad knee.  He can’t ride for more than a few hours without it becoming a painful distraction.

Today he braved it.  We rode out and found ourselves rediscovering roads that led us by marble quarries, orchards, coffee shops, minion planters, trout streams, blue grass players, gold museums, and of course BBQ!

 

His leg lasted about half a day.  Not bad.  And much better than languishing on the couch.

After that my day went to the gym, the grill, the table, the shower, then back to the patio where I enjoyed some time with a friend.

Good days.  I guess they’re all good days, aren’t they?

Happy Mother’s Day

Today, I rode home from Macon on my 2015 Indian Chief Vintage.  Riding always helps me think.

I remembered my Mom.  For as long as I can remember, I would ask my mother what she wanted for Mother’s day and she would reply with something that would benefit me; new shoes, new clothes…  Selfless in every conceivable way, she loved my kids like that too.  2001 was the last Mother’s day I was able to celebrate with her. joyce 2

I remembered I owe so much to the people around me.

I remembered that the woman who drove me down to pick up the bike and was following me through Atlanta traffic was the most amazing influence in my life.  Without her, I’m not certain there would be a me.  I am certain there would not be a me that I liked.  She has shaped the lives of our children with the power of her heart.  Her quiet, constant, beautiful care has changed lives of people around her, lifting them in ways so extraordinary that even she refuses to believe she had anything to do with it.

There will be time here soon to detail my new, undeserved ride, but right now, please, help me remember all the people in our lives who let us take them by the heart, and give of themselves in ways that overwhelm us, lift us up, and give us a better path, but somehow, they never feel as if they’ve done enough.

I wish we could all tell them, that what they’ve done is so much more than enough.  So much more than we deserve.

It’s been a great ride.

Thanks

My cross-country trip is ending in a way that I did not expect.

Last night I had the honor of spending time with a friend and his family. He just had some great news from a doctor. It was one of those trips to the doctor that could have gone either way. He gathered his sons and wife close to him to have dinner and talk about what had just happened. It had gone well. Very well. They celebrated together. They celebrated with each other. They celebrated because their lives had each experienced a rattle that shook them up enough to appreciate what they had.  They saw the miracle of what they take for granted each and every day.

I think, the time spent on the road didn’t open up any windows where I could peer into heaven. It didn’t give me insight into who I really, Really, REALLY am. No angel appeared with a sword in hand advising me to not go down a certain road.

As I was riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota I took a scenic diversion route (Some may call it a wrong turn but I was on my motorcycle so it doesn’t count). I went up through a shaded valley floor lined with occasional houses with their backs up against the hills. Every time someone came out the front door of their house, they had a view of a gorgeous creek meandering down through the center of a perfect green valley pasture, and trees reaching up toward the sky, and rocky gray cliffs serving as home to deer, elk, and bear. As I rode up through this community I wondered if they ever stepped out and didn’t notice how incredibly blessed they were. The thought of being surrounded by so much… and yet allowing the urgency of daily moments to cloud it over …it rolled around in my brain for the rest of the trip. I wondered how many times I’ve missed a moment of beauty, grace, love, or compassion because I’ve been focused on being on time, making sure I got my fair share, or simply missing the fact that I’ve always had so much more than I could ever deserve.

Last night I thought about it again. When I was around the table with my friends laughing with relief and joy, relishing the moment given to them.

As I stepped out onto the sand of the Oregon coast, I took the bottle of water I had been carrying since leaving Tybee Island and poured it into the Pacific. It was a marker. Another year and another milestone accomplished from the bucket list. I’m tired. I’m relieved. I’m a bit giddy at times thinking that it’s over, and remembering a few of the roads I’ve travelled.

Maybe the loudest concept speaking in my soul right now is to not take any ordinary moment for granted. There are none. Outside my door is a world of miracle after miracle after miracle. Inside my house is an opportunity to thoughtfully and humbly be grateful for each friend, each rare-precious-beautiful loved one. I have been given the ability to be aware of each conscious breath I take inside a living machine I did not build and do not have a long-term lease to operate.

Thank you, God, for letting a fool like me see a few of the things you have made and love. It’s been a great ride. So far.IMG_5043

Time

This week I heard someone say that “time is the most valuable commodity you have.” Yep.

My oldest daughter asked me to go to a food truck fair. We rode over in perfect weather. I can hardly tell she’s riding behind me. She weighs about nothing and a half and hardly moves. But I know she see’s everything. When we turned onto the street just before coming to the parking lot I was expecting to see a food truck. Maybe two. Instead I saw two police cars, lights flashing, and cops out directing the lines of traffic. There was a hot air balloon giving 50 foot rides up and down. 10 food trucks circled the parking lot with families lining up at each and listening to the live band play. We parked, chose our favorite truck, and then found some shade to eat and watch people. She took this picture.IMG_4472

We didn’t talk much.   Just sat as the sun started to go down. Then we put on our jackets and helmets and rode home the long way.

I did not spend time tonight. Maybe it was invested. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe both.