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?

Uplifted by a child

June 7, 2012 in Ramblings

Ok…gonna spin these difficult emotions into something good and remember why I started this journey in the first place!

The little guy in this pic is Connor. I met him and his family at a campground on the way to Corpus Christi.

I pulled into the campground, paid for a nights stay and rode directly to the bath house to wash the road grime off of my hands and face. As I was walking back out to my Ruck, this little kid was sitting on his bicycle, next to my trailer. As I recall the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi.

Connor: Hi. (reading my sign) 10,000 miles…that’s a long way.

Me: lol…yes it is.

Conner: Why are you doing it? (I am not sure he understood the “child sexual abuse” part)

Me: Well…(thinking about how to explain it to a young kid)…I am doing it to protect little kids. I don’t like to see kids get hurt. I am riding to collect money so I can give to to charities that help little kids.

Connor: Oh. So come meet my Dad. (I thought that was pretty funny…just an “Oh”…then on to other things)

I met Connor’s family. His Dad’s name is Chad, Mom is Lindsey, and his little sister is Malory. They were an AWESOME family. They invited me to eat dinner with them. Lindsey had prepared some ribs (yum!) and Chad smoked them in a big metal smoker. While the ribs were cooking, Connor and Malory helped me set up my tent… they are really bright kids.

Later, Chad gave me a donation for the Journey…I hadn’t noticed but Connor disappeared inside the family’s travel trailer. He came out of the trailer waving a $5 bill. He said “Here, I want you to have this”. I was taken completely aback. I never had a child donate to the Journey. I was speechless. I almost started to cry. I said “Connor, buddy I can’t. Why don’t you save that and buy something for yourself”. I looked at his dad as I was saying it. His dad jumped in and said “Connor, yes, why don’t you save it”. Mom jumps in and says to me and his Dad “Let him do what he wants”.
So Connor looks at me with a firm determination and says (placing the money in my had) “I want you to have it”.
WOW. Man, I was choking back the emotion. This little boy saw the value in what I am trying to accomplish and wanted to give me his money to support that cause…and $5 is a lot of money to a kid. Think about all the cool trinkets and candy you can buy with 5 bucks! THANK YOU CONNER FOR YOUR BIG DONATION!

Later, I bought a half gallon of chocolate ice cream and he ate half of it…hilarious!