Broken Arm – Journey on Pause

I thought I posted this entry back in July (sorry!) but the puncture wound on my hand from the accid

Side swiped and dragged by RV (I’m alright)

Going into this Journey, I knew that there would be hazards. Scorching heat, bitter cold, monsoons,

California Dreamin’

This is my amazing trek from Yuma AZ to El Centro CA! I woke up at 7:00AM at the Travel Lodge in Yum

 

Broken Arm – Journey on Pause

November 16, 2012 in Ramblings

I thought I posted this entry back in July (sorry!) but the puncture wound on my hand from the accident was getting infected and Frank urged me to go to the ER and get it checked while in Santa Barbara. My arm was also hurting pretty good…so I took a cab to the ER. Turns out the x-rays clearly showed that my arm was actually BROKEN. The ER doctor placed my arm in a cast and I was forced to pause the journey. I flew back home to Pittsburgh to heal and my bike was placed in storage in Ray’s garage (THANKS RAY!) I’ve had the cast off now for a couple months and my arm feels pretty good overall. I will be flying back out to CA in April to continue the journey…through Washington and Oregon then into Canada! So stay tuned…more to come!

Side swiped and dragged by RV (I’m alright)

July 15, 2012 in Ramblings

Going into this Journey, I knew that there would be hazards. Scorching heat, bitter cold, monsoons, drought, powerful dust devils, treacherous wind…I’ve experienced it all in the past two and a half months…but NOTHING prepares you for being in a collision, especially with an RV. Before I begin I want to state that overall I am ok and my bike and trailer are still drivable.

I arrived in CA about a week ago and it has been a whirlwind of excitement. There are more Honda Ruckus guys in CA than any other state. As I entered each town, I was greeted by large groups of scooterists…everyone has treated me extremely well. I have had a nice place to sleep, food, and bike maintainence where ever I’ve traveled in California. One of my recent stops was DROWsport, a business that specializes in Honda Ruckus tuning. Drew, the owner was very kind…he gave me a place to sleep and changed the oil on my bike.

From there, I connected with two Ruckus guys – Ray and Keith. I stayed at Ray’s house for two days recuperating. I was feeling extremely worn out and needed the rest. Ray and Keith offered to ride with me up the coast for two days. Ray was able to juggle his work schedule and away we went. We planned an “Iron Man” journey up the CA coastline…from Long Beach to San Jose…about 425 miles in a 48 hour period. That is especially difficult when you’re on a 49cc scooter that tops out at 35MPH!

The highlight of the journey was “Big Sur”…a beautiful part of the CA coast filled with natural wonders. The first day of the trip was long and arduous but a lot of fun…lots of camaraderie, greasy burgers, and flying road debris…lol.

We traveled up steep mountain passes and the hills really slowed us down. We were behind schedule and decided to ride after dark. We were pretty far up into the mountains on very narrow, treacherous roads. Ray was in the lead, with me in the middle and Keith was last. The roads became narrower and narrower until the shoulder almost disappeared. At it’s narrowest, the shoulder was only a foot wide. Ray was in the lead as we approached a long sweeping bend. He was several car lengths ahead of Keith and I. I saw a huge pick up truck in my rear view mirror…It had a lift-kit on it so it was much larger than a normal pick up and it had huge, oversized tires on it. It was hauling an equally huge triple axle travel trailer. It passed Keith, just missing him on the narrow shoulder, but I was not so lucky. The careless driver crossed the white line as he was approaching me and caught my bike mirror AND my left elbow on the side of the travel trailer. The mirror and my elbow became lodged in the trailers side awning rail. I was locked to it’s side and it started dragging me up the side of the mountain. It actually pushed me past the shoulder and I was wedged between the trailer and the side of the mountain…I fought to get the bike free from the grip of the travel trailer…after a good 10 seconds, the bike broke away. It then became a fight to keep the bike upright. When the bike broke free, the momentum threw me into a long rut then up the mountains hillside. I somehow got it off the mountainside, through the rut, and back on the shoulder without dumping the bike on it’s side! I STILL don’t know how I did it. The careless driver never even stopped. They just kept going up the mountain. I was shaken to the core. Keith approached me with his mouth hanging open and a look of shock and disbelief on his face. I was trembling and confused about what just took place. We looked over the bike and trailer carefully. My mirror was bent and one of the plastic signs on my cart was damaged but otherwise the bike was ok. Ray realized that we were no longer following him and circled back around to see what happened. He was equally shocked and amazed that the accident did not result in an ambulance ride.

I had no choice but to shake off the accident and continue forward. We were in the middle of nowhere and had to get off that mountain.

We found a hotel a few hours later and stopped for the night. The following morning, we headed out and by late afternoon we reached Big Sur. It was everything Raymond promised it to be. Absolutely breath-taking. One of the most beautiful places on earth. We spent the rest of the evening exploring and taking pictures. By nightfall, we were still up in the mountains and I did not want a repeat of the previous night. Unfortunately, the rest of the night was equally trecherous…narrow shoulders, careless drivers, and lots of dense fog. We arrived at the hotel at 2AM…a new record of 14 hours on the road. I FELL into bed and passed out. Ray departed for his brothers house just a few miles away. Keith and I are meeting some other Honda Ruckus guys for a ride in the morning.

Also – on an equally difficult note…California is the half-way point in my journey. As all of you know, I am trying to raise $20,000 for three charities that combat child sexual abuse. I never looked at my Pay Pal donation account until this morning. I need to be at $10,000 to be on target. I checked it and to my (initial) disappointment and dismay it was at $1,500. That is nowhere even remotely close to being on target. My mind initially turned towards the negative. I thought “Wow…115 degree farenheit heat, bitter cold, monsoons, being dragged by an RV and this is what I have to show for it”.
THEN, I thought about the people who donated and had an immediate change of heart. Every donation came from good people with GREAT hearts. All of these donations came from everyday people with everyday jobs…many of them struggling to make ends meet. A $20 donation was 3 hours labor flipping hamburgers for some of the people that donated. Others were single parents, families just starting out, and a few were even unemployed. After realizing that, I felt GREAT and I felt PROUD of all the people who came together to support me and the charities I am riding for. I will keep moving forward inspired and blessed as the day I began this Journey! I am so fortunate to be here…healing inside, touching lives, and inspiring others to heal. I could be in no better place.


Downtown Hollywood!


Our first lunch together


Along the California coast


Keith, Tom, and Ray


Keith behind me. Noticed the narrow shoulder!


I AM BLESSED TO BE ON THIS JOURNEY!


Somewhere along Big Sur


One of the most beautiful places on earth and I was able to see it with my own eyes!

California Dreamin’

July 7, 2012 in Ramblings

This is my amazing trek from Yuma AZ to El Centro CA!

I woke up at 7:00AM at the Travel Lodge in Yuma Wednesday morning. I inspected my bike and found a HUGE nail jammed in the trailer tire. I was debating whether or not I could make it to CA with the damaged tire. The punctured trailer tire was bothering me so I decided to try to get it fixed before I left Yuma. I called Liberty MotorSports in Yuma at 9:00AM when they opened. To my surprise, they had the tire in stock! (3.50 X 8.00)

I arrived at 10:30AM and was greeted warmly by the entire staff…what a great bunch of people! While I was there, I asked them if they could do an oil change, and change the rear tire (Tim gave me a like-new OEM Kenda). I asked them if they could work with me on the price of everything because obviously, it was a charity ride.

They replaced the rear tire, swapped out the front tire, and changed my oil as requested. They finished everything by 1PM…when I went to pay they said “No charge, it’s on us”. Wow…what an awesome group of people.

So it’s 1PM and I am just hitting the road…kind of a late start but the bike maintenance was necessary. I started out on RT 8 and rolled into California. Seeing the “Welcome to California” sign was a really big deal to me. I can’t believe I made it from Pittsburgh, PA to California on a 49CC scooter.

I am REALLY excited about my journey through CA. I am not sure what to expect and the unknown is exciting to me.

I was on RT8 and came up on a sign that prohibited motor driven cycles from continuing on RT 8. My nice short trip just became complicated and LONG. I called Frank and we had to figure out a new route. My 68 mile journey turned into a 130 mile journey through a deserted, barren desert. To be honest, I was feeling a little scared…I turned off the highway and what I saw was an old straight 2 lane highway cut through a very deserted, barren area. It was 2PM and HOT (102F).

I was not prepared for this trek…I did not have enough water and had no idea how much gas I had in my Ruck. I trudged forward apprehensively…

I never realized that such a barren wasteland could be so BEAUTIFUL. WOW! What was even more exiting was the barren sand dunes I stumbled across. Almost indescribable. The dunes were a smooth, pristine tan color…carved and swirled by the wind…they almost look “creamy”…and the scale…they were so huge that they almost looked fake…like you were looking at a surreal painting. At one point, I looked around in a 360 at the dunes and I got goosebumps from head to toe. The scale of it was more than I could comprehend.

By this time, my eyes, nose, and mouth were clogged with a talcum powder fine sand (note to self – check air filter on Ruck as soon as possible). My eyes were dry and gritty and it was getting hard to breath. I drove through the desert for several hours and out of nowhere came upon farmer’s fields full of green crops. What!?!? Giant sand dunes and barren desert then green fields…with no transition!?! One second I am in the desert…the next second I am in fertile green farm land…was I hallucinating?!? …lol…was this a desert oasis or mirage?!? …lol…lol. How strange…

Channel 4 Interview

July 4, 2012 in Ramblings

PA State officials building stricter sexual assault laws

July 2, 2012 in Ramblings

This article is from a PA newspaper, The Times Herald. I read this article with great hope.

http://www.timesherald.com/article/20120624/NEWS01/120629731/state-officials-works-towards-stricter-sexual-assault-laws

If these bills pass, it would afford me (and my brother) the opportunity to prosecute the pedophile that repeatedly abused us. In my case, the abuse was so severe that it is classified as second degree felonies.
Still trying to get my head around this possibility. I am so hopeful that these bills will pass. We never received justice and this pedophile went on to hurt many other children. He was never charged in ANY of the molestations.

It would mean the world to me to see a juror stand and say “guilty”. He would be placed on a sexual predator list so future communities could have at least *some* measure of protection. I will keep all of you posted on the progress of the bill.

EDIT: I SPOKE TO BILL WHITE, A JOURNALIST AND FRIEND FROM THE ALLENTOWN, PA PAPER “THE MORNING CALL”. AS IT HAPPENS, THE COMMITTEE THREW OUT THE “TWO YEAR WINDOW”. THIS WINDOW WAS DESIGNED SO ALL SURVIVORS COULD STEP FORWARD AND NAME THEIR ABUSERS…REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH TIME HAS PASSED. SO…PAINFULLY, THERE IS STILL NO JUSTICE FOR ME OR MY LITTLE BROTHER. BE ASSURED THAT THE PAIN FROM THIS WILL BE A POSITIVE FUEL FOR THE FIRE THAT BURNS WITHIN ME. I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR OTHER KIDS AND MAKE SURE THEY RECEIVE *JUSTICE*.

Here is the full article by TONY FIORIGLIO:

HARRISBURG — In the wake of the Sandusky trial that rocked Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, state legislators have begun working to further protect children from abuse and to ensure full punishment for the abusers.
According to a statement released by the office of Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151st Dist.), the representative has backed a series of bills that would help bring sexual predators to justice. H.B. 832 would eliminate any statute of limitations in cases of sex crimes being committed against minors, which would allow alleged abusers to be tried no matter how much time has passed. H.B. 878 would extend the statute of limitations for victims who wish to pursue civil actions against their abusers. Pennsylvania currently allows civil action to be taken until the victim turns 30. The proposed bill would move the cut-off to 50. H.B. 2488 combines the two previous bills. “We cannot allow sexual predators to avoid criminal punishment and civil liability by riding out the clock and hiding behind the statute of limitations,” Stephens said in the statement. “These bills are critical in ensuring child victims of sex crimes receive the justice they deserve and that the offenders are held accountable for their actions.” All three bills have passed through the House Judiciary Committee and now move to the House of Representatives.

In addition to the previous bills, Stephens also came out in support of H.B. 1264, which would allow expert testimony to be given at child abuse cases that would help explain why the victims may wait years before coming forward with charges. “It is not uncommon for young victims to bury the crime as a means of psychological self-defense,” said Stephens in a statement. “Expert testimony as to why there would be a delay between the crime and the reporting of it will prove immeasurably helpful to jurors as they seek the truth in these difficult cases.” This bill awaits Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature to become law.

Channel 9 Interview

June 29, 2012 in Ramblings

Tom, meet Tom

June 29, 2012 in Ramblings

I am safely in Tucson, AZ right now…headed to Phoenix in the morning. I wanted to share this amazing story with all of you. It happened in Sierra Blanca TX.
I was the only person staying at the Americana Inn in Sierra Blanca. It’s about a 30 room motel and other than myself, it was completely deserted. Around 9:30PM, I went outside so I could wheel my bike in my room. I heard someone singing and playing guitar. I looked to the upper end of the parking lot and saw a guy sitting outside playing music. He was singing Bette Midler’s song “The Rose”. I have not heard that song since I was 13 or 14 years old.
I grabbed my camera and started walking towards him. It was then I noticed that he was on a bicycle. Attached to that bicycle was a trailer. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Hi, I’m Tom.

HIM: I’m Tom too.

ME: I’m on a Journey.

HIM: Me too.

ME: I’m riding for charity.

HIM: Me too.

ME: I made by own cart.

HIM: Me too.

This man’s personality was so similar to mine that it was unsettling. Empathetic, open, good natured, spiritual…it was like looking in a mirror.

I felt like I was filming a scene for some strange independent film or something…I felt like I was standing there talking to myself as I was on my Journey…


Tom’s rig in front of Tom’s rig…lol.

Tom sang me a Johnny Cash song:

The more I talked to him the more similar our lives paralleled each other. At one point I said to him “Tom, don’t you find this more than a little odd”? “I mean, we have the same first name, we are both on two wheeled vehicles, we are both on a life journey, we are both riding for charity, we both made our own carts, AND we are the only two people here at this motel”.

He looked at me and smiled and said “I believe that everything happens for a reason”. “I don’t think it’s odd at all”.

This whole thing had me freaked out…then I started to think about why this could possibly be. Here’s another one of those transparency moments that makes me uncomfortable…but here goes…

For the past few days I’ve been feeling a little embarrassed and self-conscience. I decided to be transparent on this blog …as you can imagine, it’s difficult to really put yourself out there. Especially for men, it’s hard to express emotion…because we are wired by our culture NOT to do that…It is sometimes seen as a weakness, not a strength.
I’ve been concerned that maybe some of you might not want to read this thread because of my openness to express what’s really happening inside of me. To be honest, I thought about reeling it in a little. Maybe just focus on the bike more, or the food, or the scenery. But after meeting myself (lol)…I decided to keep doing what I’m doing…because I got an unusual (but blessed) look at the empathetic side of myself. It was almost as if God was telling me “Don’t touch a thing”. “You’re this way for a reason”. So, I’m goin with that :)

Tommy started his journey in Florida and will finish in Los Angeles. Fully laden, his cart weights almost 400 pounds!!! he carries about 15 gallons of water with him at all times. He had had over 50 FLAT TIRES!!! and for some odd reason, most of them in TX. He realizes that the cart is seriously overloaded and a lot of the flats were sidewall failures.

The night I met Tommy, I gave him $50 …I really did not have it to give but I knew it was the right thing to do. I figured it would pay for his room that night. The next morning as I was outside packing my trailer, a guy named John approached me, said “I believe in what you’re doing”…and handed me $50. Can this journey get any more unbelievable?

A SOUL SET FREE

June 22, 2012 in Ramblings

Possibly the most miraculous event on the journey to date:

I arrived in Laredo Monday. Frank (Founder of the Texas Foundation for Safer Children) told me to go directly to the police precinct because he set up a TV news interview for me there.
I had a police escort into town and we arrived at the precinct as scheduled.

I took a few pics with the officers that escorted me then waited for the journalist to show up. A few blocks away, something caught fire. I could see black smoke billowing. The journalist called my cell and said she had to cover the fire first, then she would meet me. I told her that I would wait for her. Minutes later, a big black Ford pick up truck rolls up and a lady gets out. She’s really excited and exclaims “Tom, I am so glad I found you”! “We’ve been searching all over the place for you”.
I didn’t know what to make of it.

She introduced herself as “Gabby” and she had a heart-wrenching story. She was molested by her father for 14 years! I was unaware that she had sent me an email earlier in the day…(I was on the road and was not able to check my email). With Gabby’s permission, I would like to share that email with all of you:

HELLO MY NAME IS GABBY AND TODAY I TURN 28. I’M VERY THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOUR DOING. I MYSELF WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER FOR A PERIOD OF 14 YEARS. YOU WERE PASSING BY YESTERDAY WHILE ME AND MY FAMILY WERE GOING FISHING IN FALCON LAKE.

I HAD TO CALL THE STARR SHERIFFS OFFICE TO GET YOUR WEB SITE SINCE I ALL I SAW WAS 10,000 MILES CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. IT TOUCHED MY HEART AND I HAD TO LOOK FOR THE MAN WHO WAS GIVING ME A BIRTHDAY GIFT OF COURAGE AND THE WILL TO KEEP FIGHTING THIS BATTLE.

I FIGHT THIS BATTLE WITHOUT MY MOM OR MY BROTHERS. THEY HAVE SUPPORTED MY DAD SINCE MY OUTCRY TO THE STARR COUNTY SHERIFF. SINCE 2004 HES BEEN IN PRISON SERVING 20 YEARS. MY HUSBAND AND MY BOYS IS WHAT MAKES ME TRY AND NOT GIVE UP. ITS HARD BELIEVE ME. SOME DAYS I CAN FOCUS ON THEM, OTHER DAYS I SHUT DOWN AND HURT. IT’S NOT EASY.

FOR MY BIRTHDAY MY HUSBAND DECIDED TO DRIVE TO ZAPATA AND LOOK FOR THE MAN IN THE 50 CC SCOOTER AS A GIFT TO ME. BOY I LOVE HIM. IM CALLING THE HOTELS. ONE MAN SAID ILL TRANSFER YOU TO HIS ROOM BUT NO ANSWER. HE SAID MAM LET ME KNOCK BUT YOU WERE GONE. HEY IM STILL DRIVING TO CATCH UP. MAY GOD LET US CATCH UP TO YOU. BLESSINGS AND IF I CANT REACH UP TO YOU THANKS FOR GIVING ME COURAGE AND THE GIFT I HAVE RECIEVED IS THE MOST AMAZING GIFT I HAVE EVER RECEIVED. FIGHT AND KEEP LOOKING FORWARD GOD BLESS YOU.

Wow…that is deeply inspiring. It made me cry.

Gabby and I started a heart-touching conversation…her story just tore me apart…but I sensed something…I felt she was ready to step out of all that darkness…I could just sense it. I said “Gabby, do you know why I am here this morning”? She said “No, I don’t”. I said “I am waiting for a television news crew to show up…they are going to do a news story on me”. But Gabby, I don’t think this story is about me today…I think it is about you”. If you are ready, I would like you to do the interview instead of me”.
She was really shocked and she said “But what would I say”? I said “just tell your story…and tell everyone about how my journey inspired and motivated you to come forward with this”. After all, this is what my journey is really about…inspiring other survivors…to share my courage and let them know that someone really does care. Your story today is the best example I could possibly think of”.

I could see the wheels turning in her head and I could feel the internal struggle. I KNOW THAT STRUGGLE. The struggle of coming forward and realizing that once it is out, there’s no more secret. It’s extremely frightening, and hopeful, and uplifting, all at the same time.

Just then the journalist calls and says “Look, I don’t think I can make it”. I just covered this fire and I am very overheated and dishoveled…the fire was very intense”. I said “Look, I really need you to come. There’s an important story here and it’s not about me”. She said “I don’t understand”. I said “Please, just get here”. She agreed and showed up about 10 minutes later.

I introduced Gabby to Andrea, the journalist. I then pulled Andrea aside and explained the situation. She said “This is amazing…this woman tracked you down from Zapata”?!?! I said “Yes, she did…she’s your story…not me. This woman is ready to step out of the darkness into the light with this interview and we are here to witness it”. Andrea’s response was “Absolutely”! So I stepped over to Gabby and said “Gabby, after this, there’s no more secret. Are you sure you want to do this”? She said “Yes I do” with tears in her eyes…which of course made ME cry. The reporter was just staring at Gabby and I…taking in this moment.

I stepped out of the way and Andrea started to interview her.

I stood there in humble amazement as I watched it unfold…Andrea looked at me a few times wide-eyed as the interview unfolded…we were blessed with witnessing a human soul setting itself free. I just got goosebumps head to toe as I was writing that.
At one point Gabby felt it too and her, Andrea, and myself were all looking at each other…realizing the blessing that we were all taking part in.

Afterwards, we all got a picture together. The man in the pic is Gabby’s husband Mike. He is an absolutely GREAT GREAT guy.

Later that night, I received a text reply from Gabby when I asked her if I could write about her.

AND…here’s where Tom cries again:

“Thanks so much. It would be amazing if you wrote about what happened…maybe another heart out there will be blessed. Thanks for your courage. God put you here for us. Thank you for giving me the greatest gift ever”.

So, today (Friday June 22) I rode 100 miles for Gabby. I went from Sanderson TX to Marfa TX. My Journey today took me through the scorching desert. I want to post some pics for Gabby to show her my trek of 100 miles…Gabby, here is your first 100 miles of freedom…I know you will travel a million more!
You might think that a dry, dusty desert with a scorching sun and blazing hot winds would be a desolate dead zone. It’s not. There is LIFE everywhere. Gabby, these flowers are for you…to show you that even in the most difficult places, there can be an abundance of LIFE!

And JUSTICE for all…

June 19, 2012 in Ramblings

So I’m riding…and riding…and riding…trying to knock out 160+miles and get to Zapata TX. I start getting into some really remote areas near the border and started getting nervous…like whispering a few prayers under my breath nervous…
Just then, a big white SUV rolls up on me with it’s 4-ways on…it really gave me a jolt because I did not know why it was so close and why the 4-ways were on…then I noticed that it had a huge black brush guard on the front and strobe lights mounted to the roof. I was never so glad to see the police. I remembered that Frank, Founder of Texas Foundation for Safer Children (texasfsc.org) had mentioned something about trying to get me a police escort…but I did not think he was serious!

So he followed me for a while and I waved him over into a gas station after about 10 miles. I got a few pics with officer Ames. He was a really good guy. He said he was going to follow me for about 10 more miles then break off.

Here’s where it gets really crazy…so he stays with me more than 10 miles…THEN I see a SECOND Sheriff’s SUV roll past me and get in FRONT of me. So now I have a DOUBLE escort! One in front of me and one in back of me!! That went on for another 5 or 6 miles then a THIRD Sheriff’s SUV drops behind me!!! So now I have a TRIPLE police CONVOY escorting me!!! The amazing thing is…it wasn’t a “token” escort…they were serious and this was real!! I was STUNNED…REALLY STUNNED.

It was then something changed inside of me and I started to cry with my helmet on (don’t know if you guys have ever done that but it’s not fun). It was the first time I EVER experienced a sense of JUSTICE in 30 years. These officers made me feel like what happened to me MATTERED. What I mean is…the abuse against me when I was 13 years olds was never reported…no arrest, no conviction…nothing. I never saw a police officer, a judge, nobody. And today, here were 3 police SUV’s with 4 police officers who let me know that it DID matter.

I want to SINCERELY THANK the Starr County Sheriff’s Office for there kindness. So many of these crimes go unreported and there is NO SENSE OF JUSTICE for the Survivors. I have heard it many, many times during my Journey that “My parents refused to call the police or even acknowledge the abuse”. I just heard it again from a woman in Brownsville only days ago. So this gesture of the escort extends to ALL of us who never received justice.

I want to take a moment and thank Frank Trevino Founder of Texas Foundation for Safer Children (texasfsc.org) for helping me this past week. He has invested an incredible amount of time and effort into my journey. He’s planned routes, secured police escorts for me and even supported me financially with a donation on behalf of his own charity. Thanks for Frank and Texas Foundation for safer children, I have a hotel to stay in each night for the remaining 5 days I will be traveling through Texas. It is dangerously hot and humid and sleeping in a hot, humid tent after spending 7 or 8 hours on the road would have been miserable. Thank you Frank from the bottom of my heart (Hey, no pun intended!! LOL). Frank, you and your family are Saints


Frank is on the right!

So the Sheriff’s break off and I am on my own again, about 30 miles outside of Zapata. I notice that clouds are rolling in and it’s going to storm…so I and try to beat it to the hotel.

Suddenly, I hear ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and it’s LOUD! I pull over and realize that the rear bike rack assembly on the cart that houses the trailer tail light assembly has SNAPPED and it’s DRAGGING! The high winds pushed on the rear sign and caused the assembly to snap. I pull over and realize that I am in an extremely desolate, remote area with no cars passing by. I was worried about violence because I was so close to the border…I felt like a sitting duck. I grabbed a bunch of zip ties and tied the light assembly up and got out of there. Just before I arrived at the hotel, the sky opens up and it starts raining HARD. I could not see the road…and it was very, very windy. I tried to pull over and the front tire hit some loose gravel and I dumped the bike! I did not get hurt other than a mildly sprained wrist. The bike was ok other than the driver’s side mirror getting a little twisted around…but the cart took a hit. I now have a decent size gouge / ding on one of the metal tubes.

I arrived at the hotel SOAKED. I got the bike and the cart in my motel room, changed into dry clothes after a warm shower and started working on the cart. It stopped raining so I walked two doors down and got a Big Mac (Yum/Yuck)…as food options were limited….then went next door to Dollar General for some Mcguyver repair parts for the trailer. I walked back with two kitchen spatulas and some epoxy. I broke the spatulas apart for their metal rods and cut them down a bit. then I slid them into the broken hollow trailer tubing and secured them with epoxy. (Temporarily FIXED!) At least until I can get to Phoenix and make proper repairs.


AND LASTLY – I look out the window after I fix my trailer and I end my day with a RAINBOW

Bendiciones de la Virgen (Blessings of Our Lady)

June 15, 2012 in Ramblings

I arrived in Brownsville yesterday early afternoon. The sun was scorching and I was drained. I looked everywhere for a cheap, clean hotel. Couldn’t find one so I had to choose…cheap OR clean. I chose cheap. ($40…that was the cheapest I could find). I layed down in the A/C and fell asleep immediately. I power napped for an hour and was up and around. The Motel did not have Internet so I was off to find a Starbucks…and luckily there was one 2 miles down the street.

Now that I was in Brownsville I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about Mexico. It was clear to me that the previous Embassy official that I spoke to backed out of his offer and I was stuck with no clear path to the Basilica. It bothered me the whole way from Corpus Christi to Brownsville. I was torn between a quick drive over the border and back into Texas or going the entire way through Mexico and making a run for the Basilica. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. My plan was to wake up the following morning and head over the border and whatever was going to happen was going to happen.

I arrive at Starbucks, order my coffee and take a seat near the bar. The short guy after me makes a joke about coffee stunting his growth…and I make the spontaneous comment “You too, huh”? and we both laughed. He says “Is that your bike out there”? I said “Yes”. He then says “My friend is the founder of an organization in Texas that helps kids heal from sexual abuse”. “REALLY”? I said.
“Yes, he founded it over 10 years ago…he’s done a lot of good”. “So where are you headed”?
Oh, I *think* I am headed to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe”.
“ON THAT?!?” he says, pointing to my bike. “Yes, on that”. He gets a very serious look on his face and says “You are going to get yourself killed”. To be honest, that shook me up a little because he was a local and he was telling me that…I figured that as a local, he had a pretty good bead on the level of violence in the region.
He then says “Excuse me for a minute, there is someone I would like you to meet”. He walks across the restaurant and starts a conversation in Spanish with a man dressed from head to toe in black.
They both approach me and the second man introduced himself. He says “Please do not do this” with a very serious and very stern look on his face. He asked me “What is it that you are trying to accomplish with this journey to the Basilica”? I explained all of my reasons and stressed that one of the main goals of this journey is to raise awareness. He told me “If you are trying to raise awareness, we can help you with that”. He gets his phone out and makes 3 phone calls, all in Spanish. He says to me “Be at the border crossing bridge with my associate Juan (the man I had just met) tomorrow morning at 10 am. You will be interviewed by two news agencies and the major newspaper. The first news agency is the biggest in all of Mexico and your message will reach hundreds of thousands if not millions of people throughout Mexico (and he mentioned two other neighboring countries that I can’t remember). He then asked if he could buy me dinner. We went to a nice restaurant next door to Starbucks and had an awesome dinner. The two men were very open with me and shared with my their efforts to advocate for the good of Mexico. The one gentleman held a diplomatic position. He said that what I was doing was very important because child sexual abuse has no boundaries and it was commendable that I was going beyond my physical, mental, and emotional boundaries to help others. He said that it was also important that I chose to go beyond the boundaries of my own country and engage Mexico and Canada in this UNIFIED fight against child sexual abuse. WOW! you could tell this man was a diplomat…he spoke so elegantly!

So after dinner Juan took me for a tour of Brownsville and told me all about the town…the GOOD and well as the bad. Later we met a friend of his and went out for some fantastic taco’s…then over to his friends house. His friend just closed down his motorcycle shop and had an entire back room in his house FILLED with clothing, helmets, chrome, parts, etc. …I was in heaven…
He gave me some merchandise to have a raffle or auction to raise some funds…he donated a nice helmet, windbreaker, and riding gloves.

Afterwards they lead me back to the motel for some much needed rest. I did not sleep very well because my bike was outside so I was up every hour checking to make sure it was still there. I was up for good at 6am because we were going to meet for breakfast and be at the bridge by 10am. I wanted to get the signs on my trailer translated into Spanish so we went to Kinko’s after breakfast at Whataburger and I had them print the signs on some cheap white paper and I taped them over the English text.

We drove over to the bridge where the border crossing was located and moments later news crews started to arrive. They spent about an hour interviewing me, filming, and taking photos. Somewhat surprising…they asked me about my faith in relation to the sexual abuse. I told them that it was my faith that got me through it for all these years and then they started asking MORE questions about my faith. I mentioned “Our Lady” and they really loved that…I was privileged to be able to talk openly about my profound respect and deep love for her. One of the reporters gave me a beautiful playing-card-size picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and they filmed me taping it to the battery box on my bike. I was THRILLED that they were so open about letting me talk about my faith and how it really was the most important thing in seeing me through this (otherwise) tragedy. I don’t think a US news agency would have done that. The Mexican journalists actually encouraged it…and that made me so happy. I felt God’s presence so strongly during all of this…inside I felt lighter than air. I also felt the presence of “Our Lady”…it was so powerful…such a motherly love and a motherly presence…it’s hard for me not to write about it and not get emotional. I felt heaven shining down on me and I suddenly realized that it didn’t matter weather or not I physically reached the Basilica. I had been given THIS gift…the gift of reaching hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of people with a message of HOPE. A message that there can be a quality of life after child sexual abuse if you have the courage to fight for it. I was privileged to tell all those people that if they had been abused that they too had the courage to fight for a better life. And isn’t that what my Journey is all about? **Thank you God. My plan to go to the Basilica was not your plan…Your plan was a lot better. …I was able to remain safe and reach multitudes of people with a powerful, pointed message of hope.

And as far as “laying all of this down”…I realized that this is not a one time event. I believe that this is a process that will unfold as I continue through my journey”. I still hope to one day go to the Basilica…but for now, I am truly ok with continuing on…

After the interviews were over, I still had to actually drive across the bridge and let my Ruck tires touch Mexican soil. So I drove up to the gate and paid my SIX DOLLARS to cross …”Sorry sir, you are driving a tri-axle vehicle”…”Your moped is two axles and the trailer is a third” “Dual-axles are $3, tri-axles are $6…Now was not the time to get into the whole “It’s not a moped” speech…so I paid the $6 and continued across the bridge. Here’s where it get’s awkward…I pull up to the Mexican border patrol agent and he starts speaking in Spanish. I say “English please”. He said “What is your business here”? I said “I am on a charity ride and I just need to cross over the bridge to symbolically touch Mexico” I will then ride back over into Texas” He replies “WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS HERE”? I suddenly felt nervous and tried to explain that I wasn’t actually staying in Mexico…I just wanted to cross the bridge and drive back over into Texas immediately. Apparently, my crazy American mentality did not translate very well…because he made me pull over to an inspection area and he called another guard over…so I had two guards asking me what my purpose was for coming to Mexico. I tried to use a lot of hand gestures…and made “air drawings” of my 10,000 mile long heart…and tried to answer their questions as honestly as possible. I showed them my translated sign on my trailer “Viajando 17.000KM para combatir el abuso sexual de ninos”. Eventually they got it and let me cross to the other side of the bridge…I sat there for about 40 minutes in bridge traffic. I felt bad for Juan because he told me to drive half way across the bridge…(“half way over you WILL be in Mexico…then spin it and come back across…the whole thing will take less than 10 minutes”) Problem was that there were cement barriers across the bridge and there was no way to spin around and back track. Well…almost an hour later and no Tom…by the time I reached him he was LITERALLY TREMBLING. He said he thought something bad happened to me. Eventually, when he calmed down he made the joke that “Oh, no, I thought I killed a poor little white man”…I laughed SO hard at that…

After my official border crossing, he took me to his friends house that founded the agency Texas Foundation For Safer Children (http://www.texasfsc.org/) and I spent the entire afternoon with “Frank” and his family. We talked about so many things and he too spoke about his great faith that drives him to fight for sexually abused children. He told me “Faith is the foundation of my journey”.
Right now, I am in another cheap AND clean motel set up by “Juan”…and I am much happier.
Oh, and tomorrow I have a meeting with a State Senator from Texas! Also being covered by the media. Set up for me by Frank.
So huge multitudes with hear my message on the US side of the border!
My head is still reeling from all of this…it’s been a fast and furious ride for the past day and a half. I feel like I’ve been on a roller-coaster adventure ride and inside I am holding on for dear-life. Absolutely AWESOME