When I decided to make this journey and began speaking about it with friends and family, I encountered what a former manager used to refer to as “The Wall of No”. Almost everyone had an objection or reason why I shouldn’t do it: “What if you get robbed?”, “What if you have an accident?”, “Are you in shape to do this?”, “You might get lost.”, “Your bike could break.”, ” Shouldn’t you go with someone else just to be safe?” is just a sampling of what I encountered.
None of these things occurred or came close to happening. Instead, almost every encounter was positive. From Lori, the waitress I met in Jacksonville to Erwin, a fellow traveler from Holland and the dozens of others that I never wrote about, people were overwhelming friendly, supportive and helpful.
While riding through Landry Parish in Louisiana, I had a conversation with a man leaving a convenience store. When he found out about my ride, he asked where I was headed and whether there had been any problems in Landry. I told him I was going to Acadia Parish and that everything had been wonderful. He proudly responded: “Good. You’ll be fine here. People will look after you. Good people here. You have nothin’ to worry about. But you need to watch you’self when you get to Acadia Parish. It’s mighty dangerous there. Be careful!”
I thanked him for the advice and a day later rode into Acadia Parish. As I was standing in front of a small market, a man came up to me and struck up a conversation about my trip. When I told him that I had just traveled through Landry Parish he exclaimed incredulously: “You didn’t get robbed there? Nothing happened? Boy, you was lucky. Landry is one dangerous place.”
The point of this story is that we used to be “home of the brave”. Now, I’m not so sure. What strikes me is how as individuals and a country we have become fragmented and fearful. Perhaps, this is a reaction to 9/11. Certainly, the era of Nancy Grace type media coverage only makes things worse. All I know is that this is not how or who we used to be.
And, it’s a shame, because if you give in to fear you will never see that amazing field of purple lupine on that lonely dirt road. You won’t enjoy the camaraderie of a fellow traveler and have it develop into a friendship. You won’t stand in the middle of that expanse of desert at dawn and enjoy almost perfect silence and solitude. You won’t experience the soft, loving voice of the elderly woman in that small bayou town who held your hand and prayed for your safety. When we let fear limit us, we miss the best of each other, our country and ourselves. So, my big piece of advice if you are considering a tour (or any other endeavor) – don’t be afraid.
But do keep an eye out for the dogs.
19 responses to “A Few Final Thoughts.”
I have been following your blog avidly since the beginning. Your writing is wonderful and I am thrilled that you made it all the way and stayed safe. May the rest of your life be as rewarding.
I would say God Bless Mike Dillon, but he clearly already has…I loved reading your blog and following your adventures. Your humor has added to each of my days…NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!!
PSH (signing off forever)
Very good advice and reflection! Live life to the fullest!
Very heartwarming to see the strong well of support for you and your family behind you!
Well done, Mike. It’s sad to see your cycling adventure end, but it was most excellent to meet you along the way. I wish you well in your future endeavours. And please, let us know if you’re going to do something like this again. Perhaps through the middle of the US? Or the whole West coast? 🙂
Well said, Mike. As usual.
there are only a few people’s blog that I’m following – one of them was yours! All day I was looking forward to a new post, so I will miss them in the future.
Your style of writing is very interesting, it motivated me to continue reading. I do really envy you for gaining so many experiences, and I hope I can do a similar ride during this decade in Germany, maybe Europe.
All the best for you and your family
Well said and well done. I enjoyed your journey. I hope to see you in June in DC.
I looked forward to your blog every day. Each morning I read your blog posts with my breakfast. It was a great way to start the day. Thank you for sharing your trip. I’m going to miss it.
I voted for reason #4.
I am going to miss reading your adventure each morning but I will be saving a lot on money on “Worry Beads”
I knew there wouldn’t be a less than epic and inspiring close of your journey in the blog. While I was reciting this entry to C last night and ruminating about how the ride was more than a physical endeavor for you, I thought of the word “albedo.” Thank you for (always) teaching me something applicable.
p.s. Get some rest and HAMMER the hell out of your regular riding group – you definitely have some strength.
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Great job Mike. Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences with us and inspired us a little.
Thanks, Mike. After finishing this last post, I was about to remove your site from my RSS feed but just wasn’t ready to do it. It felt really sad. Thanks for the wonderful, evocative writing and for taking us along on your ride. Glad you’re home safely. Now on to the next adventure.
Congratulations, Mike! Thanks for the generosity and focus it must have taken to give so many people a vicarious experience far beyond a mere travelogue, and while under some quite wearing conditions.
Extreme envy too. I took a few such trips in France and the US in the BC (Before Children era) and now, decades later and in my mid-fifties, want to take it up again. Can you recommend any practical books on gear, routes, and planning? After all, this is your fault!
Pure adventure from start to finish! Can’t express how much we enjoyed reading about your trip.
Our hats go off to W.C.C. she keeps the command center in top working order, and she can share in your accomplishment.
If your next adventure is running for California governor you have our vote locked up.
we picked you up in our town in california…..yucca valley……….rural high desert….not many restaurants….I hope you road throughJoshua tree national park….outstanding rock formations like no where else in the country…..people come from all over europe etc2climb those very rocks….you are adventurous and the Angels traveled with you the entire way. Awesome descriptions,thankyou& congratulations…to an exceptional athlete&gentle human being. You are out there and we need to look and seek you all out….or ourlives as we know it here in the US will continue to change in a negative slide……thanks for bringing out the faith.
Well said sir, except that I hope these are not your final final thoughts. As a culture America is fragmented, suspicious and fearful – politically, socially, professionally etc. So many of society’s teachings are grounded in fear, spin and warped perspective rather than information and opportunity. Even for kids, life has become so serious and competitive. Urban neighborhoods, with kids playing and folks helping each other, are rare and headed to extinction. It’s sad.
Mike, thanks for sharing your experiences and reflections during your trip. Please keep them coming in your future exploits. Hopefully you will inspire others to reject the “Wall of No” and pursue their own interests and dreams, not those of someone else, or those shaped by a culture of fear. We need more people like you leading the way.
Mike, Thank you for a great lesson of life! az
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