So often in life we experience challenges that feel as if we may never recover, as if life will never be same. But is life supposed to ever be the same? From the moment we are conceived we begin a countdown to the day that we will eventually die. Some never make it out of the womb alive and some live insurmountable years upon the earth. There is no knowing what lies ahead. However, there is a choice to live each day to its fullest. We must often sacrifice, compromise, rethink, and start anew.
During the 2nd Leg of my journey I found great pride in pushing myself to overcome that which was thrust against me – by nobody other than myself. Had I remained in my previous life perhaps I would still have my leg or perhaps I would have lost it riding to another corporate 9-5 job. Influences and actions by others most certainly have an impact on each of us, but those influences came to us by our own choices and actions. I would not trade my leg for the dream I lived. I would not trade my leg for the freedom I felt. I would not trade my leg for the pride I found within myself. And I would not trade my leg for the love and support of the people that have raised me up from the depths of despair.
By no means do I wish to minimalize the loss of limb, but how many times have you heard somebody say, “I’d give my right arm if only I could…”? Would you really give your right arm or any other part or possession for that matter? We say things like this to exemplify just how badly we want something. But all too often we don’t take the risk of losing that right arm to achieve our goals. Just like ‘that’ day, if I died right now, I would be proud and I would be honored to leave this world a better person than I was when I had two natural legs.
The 2nd Leg of my journey came with many struggles, many moments of weakness in my mind and spirit, and many doubts still remained. I found that my physical abilities were tested beyond imagination and I grew not only a greater respect for my own abilities but also for those that have lived with disabilities the likes of which I never really understood. I found that my mental attitude was tested time and again with days of doubt, fear, and loneliness; yet I trod on because I know that not every day is the worst day. I pushed myself to set camp, work, and live a daily life on the road. I faced my fears of cars and curves while riding my motorcycle in some of the most amazing places in this country. The fears have not left me totally but with each new ride I log a few more miles in the journey of my passion for life.
It was setting in during my month in Colorado that I was growing tired, my business was not sustaining the expense of this new means of travel, and I was ready for a break. You would think that 8 months of recovery would have been a break but that is not the case. Those struggles were great and the 2nd Leg of the journey was merely another escape to find out who I was and of what I was really made. I hurt myself physically trying to do things I could not yet accomplish on my own. I got into situations that required purposely seeking out help. And my brain was become more and more clouded by doubt. Yet again I would not trade that 2nd Leg of my journey but I knew myself well enough to know that it was time to rearrange my priorities once again begin anew.
When I left Colorado and headed for New Mexico I had a plan of doing “just a little bit more” and then settling down for a while. New Mexico was fantastic and I met some terrific folks at my last official camp of the journey. I used that time to search for a place to live, a place to call home for a while. I made arrangements for a much needed new leg. I had several new puzzle pieces in place and I was starting to feel a bit of relief. With that relief came the urgency to reach the next step. I threw aside my last three weeks of travel and busted my butt for three days straight to reach my Mother in South Carolina. I had promised her a fall/winter vacation and though the schedule had changed she happily agreed to join me. It was at the first overnight state park that I discovered the kick stand on my motorcycle had failed. The bike was still strapped into the trailer and upright with no worries. However, I could not unload the bike if it would not stand up. For that night I crawled over the bike and into my small bed and rested. The next morning I took off for a full day of travel and along the way tried to find the needed parts for my bike. My travels are not so fast, in that I pull such a rig and I cannot physically sit static for more than two hours maximum. I always had to stop often and still having certain internal damage the breaks are longer than a fuel and run. Still unable to unload the bike I knew that once I got further east there were people I knew and places I was familiar to get service. I was not going to fret over this as I knew it was temporary.
I had a bit of fun in a deserted state park. Arriving well after 9pm in total darkness I connected my water and electric, had a bite to eat and desperately needed a shower. Not wanting to waste time disconnecting and reconnecting the rig, I chose not to use the provided shower house. It was exceptionally warm and as I said, totally dark and deserted. I have never much cared for vanity and would never wear clothes if it was acceptable, yet it is mostly forbidden in modern society so my freedom from body is often stifled. Not so on this evening. I relished in the warm summer night and washed myself by the hose feeling as if my body were that of an innocent child untouched by societal rules. I cleansed not only my body but a few more cobwebs from my mind. I crawled over my bike once again and slept in peace.
On the third day I reached Florida and stopped at a local motorcycle service shop. The boys there were simply fantastic. It was a horrible rain that day and I hung out with them longer than the time it took them to help me. They discovered a broken kick stand mount was my issue and though they tried many quick fix tactics, they simply could not correct the problem that day as the part could not be found locally. They did however find the part in Savannah, GA which is the direction I was headed anyway to pick up my Mother. I traveled on the rest of that day and up through 2AM. I rested briefly at a KOA and got to the Harley dealer in Savannah when they opened. As it goes with me, I never shut up when I meet new people and I love to listen to folks and to share with folks. I think I met dern near every employee in the dealership as well as several customers also there for service. The men and women in the service department took MOST EXCELLENT care of me and my motorcycle. They shared their own travel adventures, apps I should check out for my travels, and when it was all said and done the price I paid was more than fair with no trumped up labor charges or hidden parts. I met two guys from a 1% club out of Florida. They were headed north to a regional conference when one guy lost several spokes. He was quite lucky that he had stopped and gotten to the dealership in the nick of time. During our wait for service these guys educated on things about a 1% club that I never fully understood. These men thought by most to be hard core assholes, were nothing but gentlemen to me. They praised my fortitude; they hugged me tight and wished me all the happiness I could gather. I was offered safety and protection anytime I was in their area and most of all, they said they would love to ride with me someday. (Even now I still get texts from one of them every so often just to check on me and see if I’m doing alright.) I left the Savannah Harley dealership with even greater pride and with new friends in my back pocket.
I made it to my Mother’s late that afternoon and I since I had promised her a vacation I didn’t want to waste any time sitting around. I wanted to spend some quality time sharing my Mother with my friends in Florida. Our first stop was to see Ed and Beth in Yulee. These are folks from Illinois that retired to Florida. We had intended to have dinner and make camp but the Richsteigs invited us to stay with them for the night and we accepted. We sat around chatting about all sorts of things and had warm showered and comfortable beds.
From there we made our way to visit Kara. She has become a cherished friend whom I met via Ken at Rider’s Claw (he went to school with her in Illinois). We setup the trailer in her driveway and enjoyed a silly evening of banter and bull. And then we finally reached my Rider’s Claw family in Webster, FL. I have written time and again how blessed I am to have been adopted by these fine folks. My Mother got to enjoy the card games I speak so fondly of, we went to bingo, had dinner out thanks to Pops, and played in the pool at the trailer park. I was delighted that my Mother got to meet these folks and I was once again so happy to have my beautiful B.B. Girl back in my arms. I had missed my little dog so terribly for so long and it just seemed that I had so much love around me that my heart just might explode.
I took my Mom on a warm summer ride on the motorcycle to Leesburg and she was an excellent passenger. I wonder how many female motorcyclists ever get the chance to have their Mom as a passenger. We enjoyed a little shenanigans in the town of Webster and I showed Mom a lot of the places I had visited so many times in my travels to Webster.
The evening before my first leg appointment I received an email from my prosthetic company indicating that services and equipment would not be covered by my insurance because they were out of state. This is contrary to what I was told when I did my research on various insurance plans. That, coupled with the delayed notification from my prosthetic company had me so furious that I could hardly control my mouth or my emotions. Yet again the rug had been ripped out from under me. I just spent over $1,000 to bust butt to get there, money I would have spent anyway but would have been spread out had I known these things in advance. My leg was giving me more and more pain; I just wanted to get a new leg. Frantically I made calls and a new plan was developed. I wasn’t happy about it but some things are just out of our control and we must adapt and overcome. We stayed one more day and then made our way to Georgia (the state of my medical coverage).
Arriving at my dear friend Tim’s house, I began to let go of the anger. Hunter Farms has always been like a safe haven for me and my Mother had enjoyed the farm earlier in the summer. We were like family and we were welcomed as if we had never left. We unloaded the bike but chose to stay in the house. Tim works everyday pretty normal business hours and so Mom and I were left to do our own things. Of course I still had to work and I had an all new set of rules and appointments to begin the leg process with a new company. I rode my motorcycle an hour and change to Athens to meet with my new primary care physician. After a long physical and medical history my doctor prepared a referral for my leg prosthetic company. I had not even gotten back to Conyers when my phone rang. I pulled over and answered the Georgia phone number and received lucky news that I could get in to see the leg man right away. Located just two miles from Tim, I would do this later in the week. When we arrived Tim had told us that CRA-MC was having a fall party that coming weekend; Mom and I were excited to attend. He had to create a detailed shopping list for the clubhouse and the party so I hopped on my bike and Tim on his. Mom had decided to stay home… until the last minute… the rumbling pipes must have stirred her – hehe. She jumped on with Tim. I was a little disappointed but hey, he’s got a more comfy bike so whatever. At the clubhouse Tim and I worked on the shopping list and we three shared a couple of beers. The ride home was just a wee bit moist but certainly didn’t warrant a single complaint. By the time we got back the sun was out again, we were all a bit lazy and made our way out to the pool. We cut jokes, we sat in silence, we splashed, and we enjoyed a stress-free day.
BB however continued to get in trouble because was not catching that dern chipmunk that bugged the snot out of Tim. She was not pulling her weight and Tim let her know it. I say this not only to draw a smile but because that night she did something that she had never really done in all our stays there before. After everybody had on jammies for the night and sat around the TV, B.B. pranced and danced over by Tim’s recliner begging for him to pick her up. Now Tim is the kind of guy that more or less thinks an animal should have a purpose other than being cute and cuddly. He caved to this tiny little beast and they sat together for the remainder of the night. They made me smile.
I was cast later in the week for my new liner.
After that we all spent time loading Tim’s RV with the purchases, his motorcycle, and our weekend bags. We left Friday morning with Mom and Tim in the RV and B.B. and I on my motorcycle. The main club members arrived that day and we all did our chores to prepare for the party on Saturday. We concluded the hard work with a motorcycle to the tiny town of Rutledge where we enjoyed a couple of beers with Gregory the proprietor of the Gentlemen’s Club. It’s not that kind of gentlemen’s club… it’s actually an old bank where Gregory has his minor repair shop and on Fridays you can enjoy a cold $1 beer. We enjoyed a group dinner down the block and afterwards sat in the town square to listen to Rock-a-billy and old school country. Arriving back at the CRA-MC property we all enjoyed each other’s company but turned in at a reasonable hour as the next day would be long.
Mom and I did what we could to help on Saturday for the party and we met a boat load of people that came to enjoy the party that CRA puts on for the motorcycle community in that area. During the day biker field games brought so much hilarity that I thought my face would ache from the laughter. Mom and I entered the Road Kill Race and the Weenie Bite contest. Mom kicked butt in the Road Kill race scooping up all five animals but in the final round we were not the victors. As for the Weenie Bite contest, we totally stunk at that one and after Mom wiped the mustard from her face we laughed at our humorous defeat.
The food was good, the beer was cold, and the people were family. As the night wore on it seemed my energy had increased and finally indulged in a few big girl drinks. I stole Tim’s golf cart and for hours, I mean hours, I was given golf cart tours of the property. The trails that go through the woods provided some great bumps and curves, and of course with any good tour you must be a good tour guide pointing out all the coolest vantage points for which to make-out with your favorite love or to let go of a few beers. I had to improve my tours as the night went on, so I provided toilet tissue for the ladies – hehe. I left my Mom alone with all those bikers for long periods of time. Ha, she was not missing me one bit. I returned at one point to find her dancing with Phillip and the smile on her face was all the reward I needed. The entire day and night was pure joy and that evening we rested long and hard.
Everybody woke a little rough around the edges but immediately proceeded to prepare and eat a magnificent breakfast. All pitched in to cleanup and secure the clubhouse. We made our way back to Tim’s and recovered for the rest of the evening.
As I mentioned previously I had been researching a place to live and during the Florida / Georgia travels I had made an arrangement with a gentleman that owned a mobile home trailer in the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina. Tim would likely let me stay with him for an extended time but I was truly ready to have my own place again. I wanted to get my priorities realigned, restructure and advance my business, and to attempt to start writing a book. And so it was that Mom and I left Hunter Farms and made our way to my new home. In the last 35 miles we lost the right side suspension bolt on the trailer. We drove up Wayah Rd. at a mere 15-20 miles per hour. This road is one that a motorcyclist dreams of, but when you’re pulling a bum trailer at a snail’s pace, the curves no longer held appeal. We arrived in Nantahala a couple of days earlier than the landlord and his wife, as they were in Florida on vacation. Mom and I used this time to get the trailer fixed, wander the area to become familiar, and found a few thrift stores where we made small purchases for my new place.
The day we met the landlord and his wife at the property, we immediately received acceptance and the papers were signed. As it turned out, they had read my website and blog and were delighted to be helping me in my new adventure. Mom and I began immediately unloading the trailer and setting up the new place. I was ever so fortunate that the owners had beds, couch, chair, dining set and entertainment center which they brought me later than day from another property. When my mental process began and the research was underway, I was nervous about using Craigslist for something so important. Way back in New Mexico I just prayed every day that God would help me land in the right place and renting from the right people. And so it was!! For the rest of the week Mom and I gathered a few more things from local thrift stores, we ate at a few local joints, and we generally toured about with B.B. to enjoy the new area.
But of course, I had to return my Mom before Steve withered away and Hershey Boy missed his Momma too much. At Mom’s house she loaded me up with all sorts of household goods and even some of her canned goods. I only stayed two days but I did the best I could to weed the flower beds for her, clean off the front and back porches, and generally enjoyed her company and that of Steve and Hershey Boy as well. I had to say my good-bye and B.B. and I were off for HOME.
The 2nd Leg of my journey was rewarding in so many ways. With triumphs and defeats I continued to grow stronger in mind and body though I have a long way to go yet. As always I made time to meet folks that had followed my journey online and I made new friends all along the way. There was not a single day that I didn’t miss my son, my granddaughter, other family, and my dedicated friends. They all traveled with me each and every day inside my heart and my thoughts. Though I am beyond certain realms of recovery, there are still those pesky demons when riding and still those uncertainties of the future. I have become more patient with myself and others; and I have been increasingly more successful at letting the little things not become big things.
It is a whole new world and a whole new life. My journey has not ended but only become something of a different path. My new place is in the heart of some amazing country. I am anxiously awaiting my granddaughter and her mother, as well as their family. My son and I will enjoy some long overdue riding here and certainly my friends just have to visit as this is in the heart of some of the most magnificent motorcycle rides.
It is with great humility that I give thanks to all those that have supported me and gotten me to these new heights. I wish for you all nothing but pride in your choices and love in your hearts.