Column Left (Day Seventy-One)
The phrase ‘what goes up must come down’ has been a useful one to remember. Helps get a fella up that steep hill by adding some motivation; there’s a joy ride on the other side. It’s an undisputable fact, as well, so there isn’t a lot of haggling around when it comes to debating the phrase. Not in its current context that is; the laws of gravity are pretty much set unless you’re going to venture outside of the atmosphere and into space. But…if the context becomes less about gravity and more about geography, the phrase no longer necessarily holds true. Because, The Ride is going up, and it’s never coming down. On Day Seventy-One, The Ride took a ‘Column Left’ (military marching phrase for making a left-hand turn). We stopped going east and are now headed north. It felt different, somehow; maybe it’s because for the last seventy days we’ve driven with the sole idea of heading from one coast to another; we’ve been all about a cross-country trip. When looking at the route, the jaunt up north always looks like an afterthought, like the minutia that comes after the actual ride is finished. It’s not The Ride itself, but some cleanup duties that come after the heavy lifting is finished.
I’m very happy to report that, while we feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment from putting ourselves in position to take a ‘column left’, we are in no way in danger of losing our happy thoughts, much less our sense of purpose. In fact, it may be even stronger now, as it’s clear that there’s work to do. It may be more dangerous now than the record-breaking temperatures we endured for two weeks straight or the high deserts. Maybe even more treacherous than the mountain passes with only six inches of shoulder and logging trucks roaring past. You see, these east coast drivers don’t care. And, there are quite a few of them. Our next few weeks will show us cities like Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. While it’s true that we’ll also see some quaint yet ubiquitous towns like Fredericksburg, Annapolis, Gettysburg and West Point, the population density of the former group is not unlike a beehive, regardless of time of day or day of week. So, we’ll have our eyes peeled and a conscious focus on being safe. It starts to make sense when complete strangers learn of our route and, with wide eyes, say ‘Be careful. Just please, be careful’. So, we will do just that. Day Seventy-One had a sense of nostalgia about it; as we passed through different county lines and historic markers, the age and history of the region was impossible to ignore. A lot has happened in this area to form the identity of this country. Made me think, many more times than once, that I wish I had taken a greater appreciation for history as I was growing up. I’m pretty sure I was just trying to pass whatever class I may have been taking instead of really grasping the characters and catalysts that caused the attitudes and actions of these and other formative times. I guess I just wasn’t there yet. On the bright side, I’ve now got the opportunity to take a look at these things! We feel, as a group, like a well-oiled machine. There are not a lot of things to make us panic and a sense of calm urgency surrounds the team. As we pulled into Fredericksburg, I’ve realized that Kevin is peaking at the right moment and that he’s ready for his story to be heard. We’re ready to tell it as well, and I’m certain that the Families of the Fallen will be listening, and they’ll be served. We’re going to get this thing done. A few days in Fredericksburg will help us prepare. Seems like a great town full of community-driven people who are interested in our success, and in fact see it as their own. In the next three weeks, we’ve got some amazing things happening; it’s going to be a whirlwind just to think of the activities and situations we’ll see during this time. When we were in Baker, Nevada, population 83, it seemed like culture shock. We’ve since learned to adapt and overcome; Baker seems like a great little town, looking back. Now it’s time to adapt and overcome once again. Bright lights approaching and our job is to tell the story, to make the people listen, and more importantly, hear. First, though, we’ll have to dodge the headlights.
For the Families of the Fallen…To the Limit!
Care Creates Community,