Friday, August 10, 2012

Eat, Ride, Love.....Eugene to Florence, the Ocean, the End

They say it's all about the was bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter. The last leg of a 4500 mile journey. Incredible. For me, it was closing a book on a journey and a life. It was a tough start to the day, but thanks to Wendy, (love her) she talked me through it and kept me guided on the road through my early morning tears. The beauty of the morning and constant chatter of friends changed my mood and we rode through gorgeous roads from Eugene towards the coast to Florence.  This was a special day for everyone.

Our mid morning eating stop (not to be confused with our early morning and late morning eating stop) was.....slow. The cafe was cute and rustic, and the poor waitress was also the cook, the cashier, and mom to the two kids running around. She made each order,, even though they were all pretty much th same order. So our quick mid morning food stop turned into an hour long wait for the last person to get her food, of course it was Gina - the ever patient one. :)

This was before Gina lost her patient smile...

Our poor waitress, mother, and cook



We were excited to get to the end, but not too excited to make more stops and try to soak in the last miles of the journey. The sun broke through as we wound down the quiet river road together, it reminded me of River Road through the Russian River Valley here in Calif. Simon was excited to see Ben, Gina was excited to see Dina, and we were all anxious to come to the end of the trip, our butts were sore!

UBold and Another Stop

Love this shot. long chase to get the group to get this shot!

And Another Stop

Dad was with us the whole time...his ashes

Wendy always with her camera

Arrived at the Hotel at 3pm, not before Simon got his 7th flat of the trip with 2 miles to go. (Gina didn't get ANY flats during the entire trip). We gathered everyone together for the final trek to the Pacific. The day was beautiful, the smiles were wide, and the unexpected sand dune was tall and steep! But there it was, the Pacific ocean......

Huey didnt like this hill...

Really?  I have to carry this in the sand?

Nicole always smiling

Each of us had our own personal way to commemorate this event. Me, I just walked in up to my knees in the surf, completing Dads journey and thankful for the blessing to be there for him, for me, for Pam, for Erin, and for everyone following his life and journey. It was something pretty special and powerful. As I turned around, I noticed everyone had paused and was watching, thinking about their friend Ollie - his accident was a tough loss for them too.  When I came to join them I was a little uncomfortable to intrude on their time and space - that they had maybe moved on and forgotten about Dad after 2 months.  Not true, and this was a special moment for them too. Hopefully some healing for all.

About 4 million photos were taken among friends. Random strangers were stopping to take photos, it was a crazy and fun time.....relishing in the accomplishment and savoring the friendships and memories with smiles and laughter. Simon attempted to blow off his fireworks that he had hauled all the way from Virginia, until a wave came and got em all wet.

Simon trying to light his fireworks

Buddies forever

Simon proposed to Benjamin on the beach!

We gathered around to say a final farewell to Ollie. As we stood in a circle, I thanked them for their friendships, their kindness to our family, for their kindness to Dad, for allowing me to come join them, and for being so incredibly nice to me. Dad would be proud of them, hooting and hollering louder than any kid on the beach. He took interest in each and every one of them and only wanted happiness and success for every one of them. I told them how awesome I think they are, for DOING it, and living life to the fullest. I have grown very close to this group in one week. We passed around his ashes, each taking a handful - then walked to the ocean as a team, and released Dad to the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Everyone waded in together to send Dad off properly

I know I speak for a majority of the group, life will be different for awhile. Re-entry will be tough for most. They have done something EXTRAORDINARY. They've ridden across 10 states, ridden 82 days and 4270 miles. They have grown very close and share a special bond. Life does move on, but it's stood still and semi-insulated for the last 82 days. I'm sad to leave them, very empty feeling inside and head full of memories and emotion. I was very happy for 7 days, honored to be able to be in their reality during their journey. Leave my busy reality and join theirs. I'm so glad I did, it's one of the better decisions I've made in a long time. These trips give you time to think, to reflect, to lose yourself in the world around you, to talk and think things out without the phone ringing or being interrupted. (except to stop and take another photo, or eat more pie) You get a different perspective on things, maybe change your life, or parts of your life, or to be thankful and realize your life is pretty damn great! You get to meet new people, hear new stories, and see new things. Life is short, and I know that sounds cliche, but so does " he died doing what he loved." But both are true.

This trip reminded me that certain people are extraordinary, and that I need to get out and do this stuff more often. I was inspired to show Amanda more of the country where she lives and show her some of the experiences my Dad showed me. Dad was doing what he wanted to do, and he was doing it, he was extraordinary.

I'm going to miss following the daily reports from his group, they kept him alive for us. Ive enjoyed writing for his blogs, knowing he'd be enjoying EFI like i was. Suddenly there will now be silence from everyone, he/they will be really gone, the trip is over. It's the horrible and difficult reality. Yet he lives on in all he's touched in his life and lessons he's taught us - do as much as you can and enjoy doing it.

This will probably be the last post from Ollies Wild Ride.  The Ride is over, the journey was as good as it gets, no regrets. 

What has become my tag line for all of these writings, Thanks for the push Ollie, we'll take it from here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day #5 to McKenzie River to Eugene

I really didn't want to leave this place on the river. This lodge was awesome, but off we went to Eugene at 7:15am. Another WOW ride as we wove our way along the river through McKinzie Bridge, Blue River, and yes.....Nimrod. This ride is gorgeous, the river is beautiful and the roads were great. Even found a couple covered bridges, yes, more photo ops. Of course Gina and I kept looking for an excuse to find something to eat, and finally came to Vida, an awesome cafe there where we Wolfed down some breakfast. I mean WOLFED it down! Dad and love biscuits and gravy, but this morning I had hash browns and gravy.....finished off with 3 Berry Pie and Ice Cream! All before noon! It doesnt get any better than that!! The food was great, we were all there together, laughing and eating together, in another cafe, in another small town in America. What memories these guys have together..... 

Eugene is a pretty cool city, If we have to be in a City. It's the second largest city on the route, which means these guys have been really living in the backroads of America for 2 1/2 months now!! Gina, Paul and I cruised out to e Co-Motion bike company to check out the operation, pretty great company, made me want to get a touring bike - maybe. 

We are all starting to miss each other already. At map meeting tonight we talked about the "wheel dipping ceremony" tomorrow in Florence. It sorta brought it all home to most of us. Simon and Ubold have to get back to work in Europe right away. Mike is retired and headed out for another adventure soon. Greg and Monica are newly retired and headed back to Alaska. Wendy has a family and business to get back to, and a wedding to plan. Gina gets back to Seattle in time to head out Again on another awesome bike trip next week! Judy has volunteer commitments waiting for her in Santa Fe. And Huey is off to another exciting adventure in India. Our guides Nicole and Paul are just happy to get away from us.....I'm sad to leave them all. 

Though I'm sure there are a few who are excited to get away from each other, others are anxious to separate from these new friends. I wish I could spend a few more weeks with them, but tomorrow it will be our final day together. Dad is on our minds. I'm still shocked and humbled by his impact to this group in such a short time. He is missed, and has been missed by these friends since June 4th. They have been dealing with his death in a very real and personal way for 2 months now, managing that loss in their own ways. 

Wednesday (today) will bring a lot of sadness and closure for me, his family, and for most of you reading this blog. It makes it feel so "Final." We've all been living through the blogs, adventures, and photos of this group, and suddenly it will cease to be there, and He will cease to be there as well. His spirit was kept alive by this group of wonderful people, and tomorrow Dad will end his journey with the rest of them. What an honor to bring it home for him. And what an honor to get to know his friends on the Trans Am trip. We will leave for the final leg to Florence at 7am, eat our way to the coast to be there around 3pm, and dip our wheels in the Pacific Ocean - together. I know family and friends of some of the riders will be there as well to witness and congratulate these Rock Stars. After that, I've invited those who want to join me, to send Dads ashes to the ocean as well....he wanted to be here so badly.

Enjoy the photos of our trip from Belkamp to Eugene

Gardens in the morning

Ready to roll!

The personal contents of my trunk bag.  Letters, dad, and his sling....

Mad Max
Yes, there IS a Nimrod

Im gonna miss these girls! Gina and Wendy
Best Breakfast EVER