Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Full Circle..........Coming Home

Today is Tuesday, August 12, and I am back at the office. Tim and I left Sunday morning after saying goodbye to Betsy, Jake and Liza, who flew home. We loaded Joy in the van, and took to the highway. I was glad that we would be able to drive home, and gradually reemerge into the world of daily routine. A brief detour off of Route 77 in Virginia put us back on the parkway for a brief period so Tim could check it out, and I could get another chance to experience its magic.

Before we left the hotel, just as we were leaving in fact, we met a young woman and her mom who shared that their aunt/sister had had breast cancer. Once again, we were met with great enthusiasm and appreciation for our journey.

While staying at the hotel, I got to see Donald, a young man I had met two years ago after he had been fortunate enough to relocated from New Orleans after Katrina. He works at the hotel, and is a man who is thankful for everyday. Donald has been such a source of inspiration to me, as I met him at a time when things were quite difficult for Dale, and Donald was quite supportive.

Everybody has a story. Some learn from theirs, others are looking for the answers in the wrong places. Have you asked anyone about their story lately?

Please bear with me over the next few days, weeks, and months, as I put the pieces together, post more blogs, and pics.

that's it for now. lots of love!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

August 9, 2008

The day started with a beautiful sunrise this morning. After the darkness of night, we can always count on the fact that the sun will come up in the morning. Each day brings with it new opportunity, and represents the endless continuum that is life. And so on the one year anniversary of Dale's departure from this physical plane, we celebrate the fact that she is as alive in our hearts, mind and spirits as she ever was, and will always continue to be.

In each butterfly, sunrise, sunset, flower, or smile of someone who knew and loved her, the memory of Dale, and all she represented comes to light. As we have all spent time together throughout this journey, our love for each other, and healing that is derived therefrom, helps to carry on that which she created during her life, and that which shall continue in her physical absence. There is no way to minimize what Dale's passing has meant to her children and loved ones, but that which she left us is so strong, that through her strength, we find our own.

Through Dale's example we can learn to practice gratitude. We can learn that nothing should be taken for granted, and those things that are most lasting and significant come from a loving place of compassion and forgiveness. That the time to live is now, that the time to be happy is now, that the time to leave the past behind and comes to terms with our pain is now.

It is a simple lesson, yet runs as deeps as the deepest waters, as expansive as the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina (and more) and as infinite as the Universe itself. We apply this lesson by practicing self love first, for it is through the love of self that we learn to love others. We apply this lesson through mindfulness, for it is only through conscious and intentional living that we have the awareness to put these ideas into action. And finally, we apply this lesson by remembering, remembering that the most important thing on Earth is Love.

I want to thank everyone.................too many to list..........xxx0000

tomorrow Jake, Liza and Betsy fly home. Tim and I will put Joy in the van and hitail it home (on the highway)...............I will keep you posted......

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hello From Buford, Georgia.........We Have Arrived.

Hello everyone, the scooter portion of our program has come to an end. Nearly one year ago we came to this hotel in Buford for an entirely different reason. Now we are back. Timothy drove out to meet us for our last thirty miles, and we made it in just before severe thunder, lightning and rain.

We were anticipating getting together with Dale's daughter Justine tomorrow, but as we were all gathered around (me, Tim, Betsy, Jake and Liza, recounting and telling stories, Justine walked through the door. We were so excited. We sat around and laughed and cried together. With all that we have seen, done, heard and experienced over the past 21 days, being here with Justine has just reinforced once again why we have come.

For now, I just want to report that we are here safe and sound. It is time to regroup, and transition to the next level as Trails for Dale continues. Much to process, and even more to be grateful for. I love you all, love life and all the magic and mystery that it brings. And, of course, I love Dale.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thank you, thank you, thank you........................xxx000

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Georgia on My MInd............

Hooray..........we are in Georgia!!!!!!!!!! It is so hard to believe that we are really here. Because the journey here has been so gradual, it doesn't really feel like we could really be that far from where we started. We are 21 days on the road.....and tomorrow we reach our final destination. The day is doubly marked by the fact that Jake will be 18 years old tomorrow.

We have settled in for the night at Tallulah Falls, and are staying at a state park campground. We spent all afternoon hiking around the gorge, and visiting the interpretation center (apparently the new buzz word for visitor center). Right now we are in McDonald's in Clayton, GA as the campground does not have Internet access.

Tallulah Falls is quite magnificent. There are several observation points around the gorge to view the various waterfalls. There is a large dam that was built in 1913 to harness the energy of the water, and help supply electricity to Atlanta at that time. Part of the hike includes about 750 stairs down into the gorge to a suspension bridge and observation deck. That is alot of stairs. Of course, I could not help but think about the fact that the only way to take it on was one step at a time, just like this trip has been one mile at a time. We are up to almost 1700 miles and have just under 100 to go.

This has been a life altering event. Not only my life, but the lives of those who have accompanied me; Betsy, my mother, Andy, Jake and Liza. I know we have impacted those who have watched us as we made our way from one town to another, day after day. We have seen incredible countryside, met genuine, caring people, and learned a little bit about just letting it all go and riding off into the sunset. And carried the sacred, loving memory and spirit of Dale with us every step of the way.

I hope that through this journey, everyone who has been touched by it has walked away with a sense of empowerment. That at any given moment we can decide to be whatever we want, and not be limited by the false constraints that we think life places on us. The outside world will conform to your intentions. When you believe in something strongly enough it will manifest in the physical world. The events of this journey were partially planned, but the bigger part unfolded in way we never could have imagined. That is the magic of co-creating your life.

More to come...........it's not over until it's over...........and even then......................xxxooo

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Saying Goodbye to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hello Smokey Mountains

We got off to a slow start this morning, as we wanted to enjoy the Grove Park Inn. As we departed, there were a couple of people who recognized us from the WLOS story the night before. People have been so kind and supportive. We made our way back on to the Parkway, and once again started climbing. This time we went through tunnels as well as climbed mountains. The pictures will speak for themselves.

We entered the Smokey Mountain National Park, and the smell of black balsam filled the air. Finally it was time to get off the Parkway, as we made our way toward Cashiers. As we descended from the Parkway, we got caught in a rain squall. We pulled over so I could get some dry clothes on, and a woman pulled up beside us asking if we were the people she saw on the news. She told us her eleven year old daughter had watched the story, and wondered if we would come through her area. She was so excited, and said her daughter would be too. We made arrangements to meet her in the next town after she got her daughter, Chesney.

A short time later we met up with Chesney and her Mom in the small town of Rosman, NC. Chesney has done a walk for cancer, and donated her hair to locks with love, three different times. She is a lovely young lady, and we were so happy to have had the opportunity to meet her. If we had not pulled over because of the rain, we would probably not have run into Chesney's Mom!! More serendipity.

We also heard from Dennis, our friend we made in Roanoke, who manages the True Value hardware store there. We are so delighted that he has been following our progress. We are also so grateful and happy that we have touched people's lives, and they ours. I can't express enough how strongly I feel about the difference we can make in each other's lives. You don't have to get on a motor scooter and ride to reach out. Just smile, say hello, open a door for someone. We all want the same thing; to feel loved and to feel connected. When we reach out to others, we feel better about ourselves, and the better we feel about ourselves, the more we have to give to others. It is a circle that spirals us up and up, and we can take everyone else along with us.

I hope this ride can serve to be the ultimate metaphor. Hop on, let's go!!! xxxoooo

talk to you from Clarkesville, GA........before we start our final descent into Lawrenceville!!

Monday Morning in Asheville, NC

What a day yesterday was!! We left Boone bright and early, and headed back on the parkway towards Asheville, NC. We knew this was going to be a long day because we originally intended to stay in Little Switzerland (aptly named) in between Boone and Asheville. We realized that the distance wasn't quite far enough to qualify as a full day's ride, so we decided to push all the way to Asheville from Boone in one day. When we made this decision, we were unaware of the fact that the parkway was closing about thirty miles north of Asheville, so rerouting would be necessary. Whenever we are forced to reroute, it is challenging to find the right roads that accommodate the scooter. After having jumping on Interstate 84 in Connecticut (I told you that we had trouble avoiding it) I vowed I would never do that again. So yesterday was a day of adapting.

The ride on the parkway early in the day was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. We climbed to over 4300 feet and the views were incredible. There was not a cloud in the sky. The road was winding, and there were places you could see the road above, with its concrete spanning out on the perimeter of the mountain. Way, way cool. We made great time and did 40 miles before lunchtime, which left 50 to go. We decided to have lunch in Little Switzerland which was up on a mountain. We ate at the Inn there and sat outside. It truly felt like a Swiss village high in the mountains, with its cool air and splendid view. While we were there we received a phone call from John Le at WLOS, at ABC channel 13 in Asheville. He wanted to cover our story. We made arrangements to meet him and his photographer, Eric. They were really nice, and we enjoyed meeting up with them.

After we left Little Switzerland, we had some decisions to make, as getting back on the parkway was not an option. We were still 40 or so miles out, and this is a very hilly area. After a very windy and hilly ride, we made it to Asheville at 6:00 pm, just in time for the news!! I have posted the link, just look for the moped story and click!!

We totally splurged (thank you Betsy) and are staying at the Grove Park Inn, please look it up and find some reason for coming here, it is beyond sensational. Even here, people are not immune to the ravages of breast cancer, the young man who helped us get all our gear in here, lost his mother to breast cancer recently.

Betsy treated me to a massage. The spa is underground and is like a grotto, with waterfalls and soft lights. There are several pools, all in stone, with high stone ceilings, with small lights embedded as stars. This morning Betsy, Jake and I are taking a spin class.

We are two days out of Lawrenceville, GA, our final destination. Jake turns 18 on Thursday, and Tim flies down to join us late Wednesday night. Saturday is the one year anniversary of Dale's death.

The end is in sight, and it is hard to believe. But like I said the other day, this is only the beginning, I assure you, the Trail goes on and on. I send my love to all of you, and my appreciation for your ongoing support. xxxooo

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Night in Boone, North Carolina

This trip would not be the same without the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road started as a rural route in the 1930's. It is beautifully maintained, and offers a most incredible view of the Virginia and North Carolina countryside. The maximum speed is 45 mph, and is used by cars, bicycles and motor cyclists (and scooterists) alike. We are so grateful to have this route as it has not only provided beauty, but also has helped provide safe passage.

So thing morning we left the sleepy town of Sparta after a nice early morning run. Due to the topography, it is virtually impossible to avoid hills, but no pain, no gain. We have hit our stride as a group, and managed to pack up and head out smoothly, like we have been doing this all our lives. Back up on the parkway we started to climb, reaching altitudes of over 3700 feet. The weather is spectacular, and the views magnificent. We are completely surrounded by mountains, rolling hills, and farmland. Tomorrow as we head down to Asheville, we will climb altitudes of close to 5,000 feet. Although we hear weather reports for temperatures in the 90's, we do not experience such heat at the high altitude, it is pleasant and cool.

We are camping out tonight, and have a brook adjacent to our sight. I am listening to the flow of water as I type here, and it is mesmerizing and relaxing. Boone is a relatively big town for this area, and is home to the Appalachian Community College. We took in some mini golf and a movie. It is nice to spend some leisure time with the kids. Jake has done a phenomenal job driving, and backs up the camper like he is a pro. He got some great instruction from his Uncle Andy before we departed Staunton. That seems like a while ago now!

Today Joy received alot of attention from the motorcyclists on the Parkway. People just love that scooter (good job Tim and Cillian for finding it in the first place!!). When I tell folks what we are doing that really get it, and over and over again I am surprised and delighted to see their enthusiasm. Of course, there is no escaping the motto that you can't please all the people all the time. Yesterday, we stopped at a visitor center on the Parkway to check a route to Sparta, and while Betsy was inside, some people came over to the scooter and I explained to them what we were doing. A moment later, I was approached by a lady in uniform (like a park ranger or something) who asked me what I was doing. I told her we had stopped to ask directions, and that I was riding to Atlanta to raise money for breast cancer research. She asked me if I knew that I needed to have a permit to do a fund raiser in a federal park. I told her the fundraiser was doing the ride itself. Now, mind you, I had not asked anyone for money, but she looked like she was itching to write me up for something. Betsy then came out and told me about the suggested route, ignoring the lady as she could see she was being mean. She left us, and I was overcome with sadness, as this was the first time in almost 1300 miles that someone had responded unkindly. Not a minute later a woman walked by on her way in to the center and asked me if I was the one she had seen on TV the night before. She and her husband were so supportive, saying they had both been praying for our safe journey. The two experiences back to back were somewhat emotional.

There are lots of details and stories to tell, more than I could do here in this one sitting. Last night we had dinner and were seated at a table that had a photograph of a hawk hanging above it, I kid you not. I took a picture of it, and will post it tonight. We have had guides and angels, blessings and good fortune all along the way. Mostly because that is what we seek, and so that it what we find.

I have loved this journey, and will miss it when it comes to its end later this week. At the same time, I know this is a journey without end., sending lots of love ............xxoo