The Homecoming

It was a surreal feeling. I had been out on the road so long and the trip going so well there was a huge part of me that did not want the ride to end. In the final week I was joined by a longtime friend, Joe Morian. He met me in the U.P. of Michigan and he rode the final 1400 miles or so miles on the journey. I truly enjoyed the company. As we picked our way through thunderstorms and rain at times my eyes continued to be on the finish line. I tried to figure out which day we would arrive so I could plan a homecoming event. It was difficult to do from the road. We crossed Wisconsin and then Minnesota. As every mile went by I was becoming more familiar with the land and the territory. My dad was born in Fergus Falls Minnesota and as a young boy I would spend a few weeks every summer in the area visiting aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. It was a very heartwarming feeling to be in a place that I knew something about. We stopped the little town of Underwood where I had an aunt still living there right on Bass Lake. When we pulled in to her house that she had lived in since the 50’s and she of course was surprised and we stayed just long enough for the thunderstorm to clear out, click a few pictures and our next stop was at the Foxhome Community Cemetery about 30 miles away. We rode down the soft gravel/dirt road which made for some interesting driving on 2 wheels with road tires but we made it. I had a chance to visit some of the graves of more of my family members that had settled in the area around 1900. My dad was raised in this little community and it really brought back some fond childhood memories. Just over 100 people now live in the once thriving town of Foxhome. Virtually all the business’s are now gone and long since boarded up or torn down. We then went to Breckenridge where my uncle had just been put into a nursing home. I was a bit afraid he might not remember me but all was good and we had a great visit. I hate that feeling you get when you have to say goodbye to someone knowing it will most likely be the last time you see them alive. If you do one thing in the coming days, weeks, months and years, carve out some time to visit your aging relatives. It means the world to them to know someone cared enough to stop and say hello.

Joe and I got a room in Breckenridge to stay the night. When we were parking at the hotel, I was backing my bike into a parking spot next to Joe. My helmet was balanced on top of my gas tank as I carefully backed in and then the next thing I know both myself and my bike were laying on the ground. When Joe went to put his kickstand down his foot slipped and his Harley fell into the side of me knocking me over. The only thing that happened was my helmet fell to the ground first and that’s where my chest decided to hit, right on top of the helmet. Talk about knocking the wind out of you! Whew! All was good however and just a bruise on the sternum and a small dent in the side box. Accidents WILL happen! :)

The next morning we ate breakfast at a small diner. It must have been a good spot since the local cops were there having breakfast too! They asked about the bike of course and we had a nice chat. This was the one and only time I would have ANY interaction with law enforcement on the entire trip. When we left we headed west for the small town of Wishek North Dakota. This was the little town I was born in and spent the first 6 years of my life. Like many small rural farming communities it’s population had dwindled but it still had plenty going on. We stopped at the local grocery store and picked up some of their famous German Sausage. They even gave us dry ice to put it on. I also found the house where we lived. I don’t think it had been painted since my older brother did in back in 1964. She looked rough but was still standing and it looked like it was somewhat lived in but I could not tell. We checked out town for a few minutes then we stopped for lunch at what looked like the only place to eat in town. Someone had taken the old theater in town and turned it into a bar/restaurant. Even had the felt wall curtains and the big screen still in it. We parked in front of course and while we were eating lunch the bartender/owner said someone came by, noticed my bike and paid for our meal. God has certainly blessed me on this trip. I’m so glad we stopped where my roots began.

We continued south and stopped at the South Dakota border to take a quick picture of the sign. Now the feeling of coming home was really sinking in. As we rode across the wide open prairie of my home state I could not help but notice how beautiful it is. Rolling hills of green! I have never in my life seen it so lush and beautiful. It was truly an amazing homecoming. We stayed in Pierre for the night. I’d have only 170 more miles and this 11000 mile journey would come to a close. My stomach was almost churning. The next day, Thursday June 27th would mark the 60th day I would be on the road. It felt strange but I was certainly getting excited. We washed our bikes up in the morning and had lunch with a fellow ACC cancer warrior that lived in Pierre and took some time to visit the state capital building. I had been there many times but always amazed at it’s beauty. We then were down the road for the final hours. As we left Pierre I had my tunes on in my helmet. What comes on? The song “The Final Countdown” by the group Europe. As every mile clicked closer to home the more excited I became. The weather outside was absolutely perfect.

Just outside Rapid City I let Joe get several miles ahead of me so he could video my return into a restaurant parking lot where a few faithful followers and family would be waiting for me. It was so exciting to pull into the place. People cheering my return and a TV interview waiting for me as well. I could not have had a nicer ending to one long long journey. God’s hand had led me around the country and back safely. I am so very grateful not to have had one mechanical issue, breakdown or debilitating accident on this trip.

As I am still decompressing a bit from the ride I just can’t believe it’s over. I can’t believe what I just accomplished. I set a goal, prayed for guidance and the rest is now history. Or is it…. Lot’s of questions swirl in my head. The biggest question is: Did I accomplish what I set out to do? From my perspective the answer is YES. I had told myself and a few others prior to the trip that If I touched only one person along the way it would be successful. I think I did that, plus hundreds more. The people of this country are amazing. The beauty of this nation is amazing. The next question of course is: What will I do with the Ridin On campaign now that this ride is over? Maybe I should leave that up to you. After all without followers there would be no campaign.

For right now I will be going through my journal, my pictures and I will continue of course to write about the journey a bit more in depth and also write a bit about the journey with cancer and my thoughts on the whole issue regarding the Cancer Industry. I’ve had 11000 miles and 60 days of thinking time. There is so much more to do and write about in my life. I hope you will stay tuned. I probably won’t ever be able to financially do a trip like this one again but I do see myself taking some shorter trips and continue to blog and write about the adventures. So please stick around and let’s see where we end up Ridin On……