May 22, 2012 in Ramblings

WOW! So much has happened in the past several days…I really don’t know where to start.

On my way from Pensacola Florida to New Orleans, the rear strut exploded on by bike.

I ran into a store and when I came out, there was a tablespoon of oil on the ground. I felt sick. It looked like it was coming from the transmission. It put a knot in my stomach. I thought, “Oh no…I just had all of this replaced….the engine and transmission are new…I feel sick”. At the time, I had no idea it was the strut…I really thought the transmission was leaking.

Moments later, the sky opened up and it began to POUR down rain. I could not get my rain gear on quickly enough and I was soaked. I had just rode 150 miles…It was late and I extremely tired, my shoulder was really hurting, I was soaking wet, and I was sure my transmission was failing. I felt terrible…it was one of those dark moments that doubt sets in “Why am I doing this”? “What was I thinking”?

I tried to put the negative thoughts out of my mind and remember the blessed path I was on. I found a place to sleep for the night and woke up feeling a lot better. I met one of the Honda Ruckus guys in New Orleans. I got off my bike after another 150 miles and was escorted to a big table. They were having a Crawfish boil at his Parish. I never ate Crawfish before. I felt a little reluctant but jumped in. I ate FIVE POUNDS of Crawfish. Chad said “You don’t eat Crawfish till you’re full, you eat them till you’re tired”. Boy was he right. They are a perpetual appetizer. The tail meat is so small and it takes so long to get it out that you just can’t get full. After peeling and eating five pounds…I WAS tired…lol.

Afterwards, we went back to Chad’s house and scooter guy Ben helped him replace my shock. Chad had a replacement shock in his spare parts bin and gave it to me. Thanks Chad!

I stayed with Chad and his family that night. His wife and kids were wonderful…what a nice family! The following morning we met up with about 30 other people who own a Honda Ruckus. They planned this ride especially for me…I felt very honored that they went through so much trouble. **I felt like we were riding together in support of all the survivors of child sexual abuse** That collective support was so powerful. It set the stage for the rest of the day. We met at a small coffee shop just outside of downtown New Orleans.

While we were waiting for everyone to show up. I started hearing music. It was getting louder and louder. It was joyful “Dixie Land Band” music. Suddenly, a truck drawn carriage rolls past and on the carriage platform was a band! The music was so loud and joyful that it set my insides aglow. Behind the band was a huge parade of BICYCLES! Hundreds and hundreds of bicycles! The riders were laughing and shouting, and acting silly…it was strange, goofy, and wonderful all that the same time. I ask a bystander “Why are they doing this”? The bystander said “What do you mean “Why”?” I said “Well, what’s the reason or occasion”? The bystander replied “There is no reason…this is New Orleans”. “Celebration needs no reason”. Wow. I am choked with emotion just writing about it. “CELEBRATION NEEDS NO REASON”.

By this time, I felt “shifted”…something wonderful was happening inside of me. The vibrancy of this wonderful city began to seep inside of me…and the words “celebration needs no reason” continued to ring inside my head.

We jumped on our bike and headed out to celebrate SURVIVORSHIP!

We stopped at a cafe along the way for more coffee and a snack. I would like to explain the following pose for those who aren’t familiar with it. I became familiar with an amazing Korean guy named Wan through the internet forum totalruckus.com
Wan came from Korea to ride across the USA on a Honda Ruckus. There was no particular reason other than the sheer adventure of it. This man inspired me to ride 10,000 miles to combat child sexual abuse.
In many of his photo’s he would wear a t shirt that read “IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING” and he would have his arms outstretched in many of these pictures. When I saw one of these photos, it gave me a feeling of empowerment. So when you see me in a pic with my arms outstretched, it means at that moment, I feel empowered! THANK YOU WAN FOR SHOWING ME A WAY TO VISUALLY EXPRESS THAT INNER FEELING OF EMPOWERMENT!

From there, we rode to a park for a few more pics:

Afterwards, the crew was getting hungry so we went to a “Po-Boy” shop for lunch. For you non-New Orleans folks, a Po-Boy is a type of sandwich. I saw an ALLIGATOR PO-BOY on the menu. I vocalized it as “Ewww…gross…alligator”. Should not have done that…lol. The Ruck crew jumped all over that.
“C’mon Tom, try it…be brave…set outside that comfort zone”!

OK…so, alligator is good…but it does NOT taste like chicken…lol.

So by this time, my hair is on fire…3 strong cups of coffee is apparently too much…lol. We hopped on the bikes and headed towards Bourbon street. As I’ve said before, music makes me happy…I mean really happy…I love to hear people singing and dancing…it uplifts me and makes me feel alive…music and dance is a powerful, transcending force in my life…yet I have rarely been able to experience those live performances that affect me so deeply.
As we are rolling into town, a kid jumped out in front of us and started tap dancing. He had flattened soda cans attached to the bottom of his shoes. It was so sudden and unexpected…he just jumped into the street and started performing. My heart jumped inside of me and I felt 10 pounds lighter inside…an incredible feeling.

So by now, I am feeling lighter than air inside…uplifted and blessed. I could not imagine it getting any better than this…then it gets better. I hear an angelic gospel voice on the street. I see a young woman standing on the street singing. I approach her and explain my journey. I ask her if she will stand by my bike and sing “Amazing Grace”. She was very kind and was happy to sing the song for me. When she started singing, tears began to roll down my face…I was choking back the tears.

Afterwards, she asks if she can sing another song for me. I happily (and tearfully agreed). The song was a gospel song about being on a spiritual journey. I had tears rolling down my face and had to fight extremely hard not to break down. The lovely young woman who sang these songs is Madame ReddRumm.

WOW! Those songs hit my heart like arrows. Thank you Madame for blessing me with your angelic voice.

About 10 minutes later a woman in her mid-twenty’s walked by. She read the sign on my scooter trailer, looked at me and started to cry…within seconds she was sobbing. I did not say a word. I just walked over to her and put my arms around her. We hugged for a long time and she cried and cried. She told me she was a victim. I said “No, you are a SURVIVOR…start thinking like a survivor”. Her mom and dad were with her and I spoke with them for a while. They were wonderful people and I could feel in my heart the connection that we shared.

We finished out our time on Bourbon street with a rousing breakdance performance. I am including this for a good reason. A day or so earlier, I was thinking that I would love to see an actual live performance of breakdancing. It was a style of dance that rose up with the popularity of boom boxes in the mid 1980′s. I collect boom boxes because they make me feel good. I never saw a real breakdance performance and it was important to me. I used to watch break dancing on TV as a kid and it made me forget about the abuse for a little while. It made me feel happy. It was always in my bucket list. Well, I got my wish. We were just sitting there on our bikes along the street and a bunch of guys in white Adidas gear show up and start setting up speakers in front of us. Within seconds they fire up the music and start this INSANE break dancing routine. WOW!!!

We left Bourbon street and drove past a theater. I flagged my fellow riders down and swung my bike around to the theater for a picture:


We rode further down the street and some of the guys yelled “follow us”! We turned into an abandoned parking garage and went RIPPING up six stories on our bikes…30 bikes…some with angry loud exhausts ripping upwards…not a car in sight…it was completely abandoned…it was like a CRAZY CARNIVAL RIDE. We reached the top and the sunlight hit my face…I felt like I had reached the pearly-gates…lol…WHAT A DAY!!! We hung out on the top garage deck for a while and took some great pictures:

We finished the evening by stopping for some beignets and coffee. Beignets are incredibly delicious french donut-like pastries…deep fried and covered in powdered sugar!

We arrived back at Matt and Diana’s house and I was completely played out :)
I went up stairs to go to bed and found a New Orleans style care package on my bed.
Thanks guys!

**I want to thank EVERYONE who rode with my that day in New Orleans. I simply cannot express what it meant to me. Somewhere during the course of that day, I remarked to one of of the guys that “The world could end right now and it would be OK”.