As I pulled into the rest stop for the evening, dusk began painting yet another beautiful desert sunset.
I’d finished chatting with Arthur and rode around to the end of a loop. I backed the ZRX to a distant curb, dismounted the gear, and looked across the picnic area and past the facilities. Art and his wife were settling their RV for the night. I knew they would rest undisturbed in their motorhome but doubted that I would get away with trying to sleep in a tent off this interstate.
A large, fallen tree limb laid between the curb and a huge oak. It made a decent barricade from the eyes of “passers-by”. As I set up the tent, I smiled at the thought of Arthur, an Alaskan in Texas tickled by the thought of Terlingua. Strange how ‘off-the-wall’ answers can be when you ask random people, “What makes you smile?”.
The “three-man-tent” comfortably hosted the saddle bags, duffel bag, helmet, and me – one tired rider. As I stretched out diagonally within the nylon frame, I thought of the day’s 500 miles and the thousands from the week behind me. The anticipation of the road ahead was something I wrestled with before getting to sleep. Was the saddle-soreness going to subside?
I phoned my family and talked until I was tired, then the sound of crickets and warm breeze passing through the meshed windows lulled me to sleep. My last coherent thought was a hope that I wouldn’t be woken by a State Trooper.
“Schrapp, schrapp, schrapp, schrapp” on the north side of the tent startled me to full consciousness. My eyes bugged open and I laid frozen for a moment. Again, “Schrapp, schrapp, schrapp, schrapp”! I looked out of the unzipped window flap and got pegged in the face by another pass of the automatic sprinkler. I looked at my watch and decided that two o’clock in the morning is not an appropriate time to break camp and move to a dryer spot. So, I thanked my lucky stars that I had put the rain cover on earlier, zipped the flaps and went back to sleep with a smile on my face, trying to dream of “schrapping” down a ski slope. 😉
I woke again at 6:00 a.m. to birds singing from above. I looked up at the sprawling oak and then across to a departing R.V. with Alaska Plates on the Jeep-in-tow.
I enjoyed several miles of farm and ranches as I passed through Gillespie County, deep in the heart of Texas!
Shortly after noon, I arrived in Austin, grabbed a quick lunch, and headed to Keller Williams Realty Headquarters.
Please allow me to take you back to the foundations for what happens next. . .
In January, 2009, a sequence of events took place that called to me toward a cross-country motorcycle trip. I had a one-way ticket to Florida, a job lined up, and a plan to buy a motorcycle to ride back home. I intended to journal along the way with hopes to publish something of the journey. I’ve dreamed of getting published for years. More than that, I’ve longed to cross the county on a motorcycle for as long as I can remember.
Two days before my flight, I was asked by a friend what I intended to do with my license and career in real estate. I told Loralynn that I’d go ‘inactive’ while I pursued another passion. She invited me to her Keller Williams office where I saw two signs that leapt off the walls. The first said, “God and Family First, Work Second” and the other was a poster for “Family Reunion”, a company convention in (of all places) Orlando, Florida. It was then explained to me that, for a nominal fee, I could hang my license at Keller Williams instead of parking it with the state. And, so I did.
Then, through a miraculous series of events, and a lot of help from Shosana Day, Team Leader of Keller Williams/Everett, Washington, I went to the Family Reunion and returned with 250 business cards and new friends from every state across the county. Mission accomplished. Well, sort of . . .
At KW, I’ve learned the value of being connected to a team and a company that share similar dreams, passions, values, and business objectives. It’s really about serving our family, friends, and the neighbors in our community with a smile. We are enthusiastic about having our business objective be “a life by design”.
So, back to the S-Miles . . .
I’m half way across the country and visiting the offices of my heroes in business, Gary Keller, Mo Anderson, Mark Willis and Mary Tennant. The walls of the executive offices oozed with pictures, tokens, and books from things that make their joy complete. I spent over an hour visiting and viewing their surroundings. AMAZING! While being ALL about business, their life passions were thoroughly infused into their workspace. I must admit that it was difficult to keep envy at bay. I realized that if I want to have what they have, I need to do what they do. Everything about their environment reflected, “loving God and serving people”. I believe this starts with a smile.
. . . And you might ask, what makes Gary Keller smile . . . Well, I didn’t actually get to meet with him while I was passing through, but I did get a few shots of his office and I’ll let you decide . . .
After a long introduction to the office in Austin, I actually got some work done and loaded my “quiver” for my return to the Bellevue office.
I camped that night outside of Beaumont, Texas after having a burger, a brew, and another earful of live music at Madison’s on Dowlen. When I woke and began to ride, something wasn’t right with the chain. I tightened it for the fourth time and it continued to rattle.
I rode to New Orleans and found some shade to see what I could do. I took all bags off to get to the tools from under the seat. I hoisted the rear wheel in the air with a very cool 3-piece pocket stand that props the ZRX’s axle opposite from the kick stand. I spent the better part of an hour trying to remedy the clank of the chain to no avail.
The heat wasn’t bad at eighty degrees but the humidity was killer! It felt like a hundred and I needed a beer. I looked for a good place to get a refreshment where I could also keep an eye on the bike.
From Canal Street, I headed northeast on Bourbon. I pulled over half-way up the two-mile stretch of bars, restaurants, and jazz clubs but could not find a place to watch the bags.
I continued northeast until I was down to my last option for some food and drink. I backed to the curb and walked into a bar called the Bourbon Pub and Parade. I talked with two beautiful young ladies as the bartender poured a cold one. Soon they scooted down toward a couple of guys on my left so I started chatting with the guy on my right. We watched people admiring the bike outside.
I told my new acquaintance, David, about the trip that I was on. As I explained “S-Miles Across America”, he told me that he’d recently become a U.S. citizen after having moved from his home in Guatemala five years earlier. He’d asked where I was staying for the night and kindly offered his couch. I respectfully declined, then enjoyed the next hour hearing about David’s life and what makes him smile. His reply? Being an American!
Outside of Louisiana, I began a desperate search for a place to pitch the tent for the night. I pulled into a gas station to ask a local for the nearest campground. It wasn’t getting dark yet but the chain was really beginning to rattle me. I had to find something close and then the nearest motorcycle shop for the morning.
I pulled the helmet off as my phone rang. It was my sister. I tried to sound like I was having a BLAST. It didn’t work. She asked me if everything was alright. I spilled the beans about my plight, thinking that the bike was about to break down. She said that she’d call me right back. A minute later, my phone rang again.
Fifteen miles down the road, Barb had a friend that opened his door to me.
Kenyan became friends with my sister a few years back. “If we lived closer”, he said of Barb, “we’d totally be hangin’ out”. He and I talked for a few minutes about how God has been working in our lives. Then he showed me to the guest room. I have to give it four stars and the experience of meeting Kenyan, FIVE! By the way, what makes Kenyan smile? . . . Jet Skis.
At 8:30, a technician opened the Kawi shop. He quickly examined the chain and told me that it should easily make it to D.C. if I loosened it a smidge.
I pressed onto Pensacola, Florida. I stretched my legs, took a dip and bought the t-shirt.
I continued to head east after an hour of chillin’ out in the warm gulf waters. I planned to stay at Jacksonville Beach but decided last-minute to bypass Jacksonville and head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.