Michigan

The Ties that Bind

“I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you should really make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may have previously never thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all which may appear to give one piece of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” (Chris McCandless, as quoted by John Krakauer, “Into the Wild”) ~ The Happiness of Pursuit

So this quote makes me think of a few things that stick in my mind, but the primary thoughts here are of change; change to both lifestyle and the abandonment of sense of security. By nature I’m not an adventurous spirit, which likely sounds foolish for anyone that knows me, seeing as how I’ve traveled to multiple countries, lived abroad, have now twice embarked on crazy motorcycle trips and countless mini motorcycle adventures across this country. I say I’m not adventurous though because to me those are such heavily calculated risks, I like to play things safe. I like to have a net to catch me when I fall and often feel like I’ve missed out on things by not just grabbing life by the horns and going for it, being afraid to change or more accurately, afraid of change. I’ve come to realize though that change is an inevitability and it will come whether we like it or not and we can embrace or fight it, and one is so much harder than the other. I also realize that I have to change, my lifestyle that is. As this self titled blog implies, I’m a big man, a fat man, and I’ve always been okay with that. Its part of my identity and I like myself, heck, I love myself. I’ve over the past few years though noticed aches and pains, and places where I never had issues now giving me issues. So I am attempting a lifestyle change, this trip is I guess, somewhat of a goodbye to the old and an attempt to welcome in the new. The last hurrah of sorts. I’m not being excessive, but working out in the morning and then still having the energy to ride for hours, just don’t match up. Not that I plan on being a different man, just a better version of myself. Some of you may know that a few months back I went to Thailand and that was scary, it was my first time in a country with no knowledge of language or culture, and a crazy long series of flights to get me there. Though I had to do it, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. I had to take the leap of faith that it would be successful. Then reality set in… I was out of shape. I decided it needed to change. At some point I was going to be in Thailand, and I was going to have to walk up some temple stairs and I didn’t want to be that fat guy dying at the top. So I asked my friend Jason, who trains people on the side to help me with a workout plan. For months I went to the gym, I lifted, I did cardio, and I broke a sweat… a lot of sweat. Mind you I also last year found out I have a torn meniscus which hampers movement drastically and causes pain in my left knee. So it’s also an attempt at beginning this rehab. Either way I did this every morning, at 5:30am, for months, and I walked those temple steps. I came home and I kept working out, and I began jogging on the treadmill everyday. Now, I’m not running anywhere unless being chased and that’s only if I’m not able to take them in a fight, animals included. So jogging is big. Jogging hurts. But nonetheless I jog. I jog for a few miles every morning. I’m slowly trying to add to this, eat healthier, and make better life choices. Granted on this trip, I’m not. I’m enjoying a gym free month and will hit it again when I’m home and start anew. I just need to be a healthier me, a better me, and that means changing my lifestyle. It’s scary, because this is the only me I’ve ever known. Don’t get me wrong I still embrace who and what I am, I don’t cringe from the word “fat” I laugh at it, I use it for motivation, but I also push through it everyday in that gym. I remember the man I was in 2010 when I went through this to lead my first study abroad, I worked out like a madman. Even while dragging my students through the streets of Europe for miles, everyday I woke up and walked, as well as sprinted 5 – 6 miles a day to begin each day. I had college students begging me to stop as I pushed on to the next location. I want to be better than that, not for a trip, not for anyone else, but for me, for life, to prioritize myself. With that change though comes realizing it doesn’t just happen on one front, I have to embrace newness all around me. That started with a job and location change, it’s become an attitude change, health change, and now an attempt to change how I see the world. Not as a place that I’m so very cynical towards, but one that I can find my place in somehow – leaving behind the grudges and anger that have held me back and lived with old attachments that hindered my future. Some of that is happening on this bike, with every mile I leave behind a past memory of failure and replace it with one of success. Not having forgotten, but having moved past, and each mile closer to completion does that. Maybe it’s this place, Detroit, that has made me think of change. I have so many memories here and so much love for this place that so many have discarded. It’s a beautiful place rich with black history and narratives that tell the stories of triumph and struggle. Behind every layer of paint, beneath each crumbled building there is knowledge that goes lost and information that shouldn’t be forgotten, but is hidden by the stigma that plagues this once great city. To me, it’s still beautiful, differently beautiful, and I don’t want that to be lost. I want it to be reborn, to find new life under the sun and stars. A new life to be better, not something else completely, just better. With that in mind, step by step, mile by mile, I’m trying… I really am trying. 

Day Eleven What a day. I’m dark, like dark chocolate dark, with milk chocolate tan lines showing exactly where my goggles were today and where my sleeves stop. I’m definitely getting my raccoon on. Haha. So in other words I’ve spent some time on the road. Honestly it wasn’t a terribly eventful day because the goal was to get to Indianapolis by a certain time so I had to move straight through. Though I did get to start the day with some family time. My cousins that I stayed with last night had plans for breakfast with the rest of the local family and some friends to celebrate Chris’ recent birthday that I mentioned in the last post. So even though I first thought I’d leave before that point I figured I could stay and at least say hello to everyone, even if I couldn’t stay for breakfast itself.

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Cousins… Jody is feeling the flow, doing the bull dance.

The day started with taking more photos with the family on the way out to the restaurant. Which I guess is fair, we haven’t seen each other in a good while. This included of course everyone on the bike, taking my little cousin for a ride and eventually my cousin Holly too. It’s nice to share in everyone’s excitement and give them a new experience. My younger cousin was really digging it after being hesitant at first, I think we may have a bike fanatic on our hands one day.

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Jean, Lady Luck, and I, headed around the block.

Then it was time to head to Kuzzo’s a chicken and waffle place they wanted to go to. Following them to the spot gave me a chance to head into Detroit not far from where they used to live and I used to spend a lot of time both as a kid and when I was here for grad school. Between that time Detroit changed a lot, those memories color the place it is for me now. I see this ruin and loss, but I also see potential and possibility. I also see beauty in the decay to some extent, the layers of posters peeling atop one another, the color shifts in fading paint, the new places springing up amongst the old. 20170723_115531 This is one of the most interesting cities in the country and most important to some extent to its financial and socio-economic history, so it’s always a marvel to me to watching what it was versus what it is. As we arrived at the restaurant my cousin Ricky came out to greet me as I circled back to park.

Ricky was one of the coolest guys I knew growing up. It’s been great to see him age into a salt and pepper haired “adult”, and all of these cousins to some extent. While there’s a closeness there with all of them, it’s not until now that I realize just how much older than us they were, but that was the great thing about it. We always felt welcome and present when we were with them, age was never a factor or hinderance. This morning hasn’t been any different. From hugs all around to laughs at the table it was a great experience to see everyone. I met one cousin’s new husband, friends, and smashed about 6 glasses of water before hitting the road in the increasing warmth. The best moment though was sitting with Ricky and Judy who proceeded talk about the old neighborhood so longingly. In this conversation they told me about the race riots and the ensuing “white flight” that eventually started the downturn of this city. They told me about the national guard coming to “protect” neighborhoods as tanks rolled down their street and sat in the park across the lot from them.

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Judy and Ricky schooling me on history

 

They almost romanticized the moments of this tragedy, but I get it. It was beautiful. Not what happened, not the riots or the fall of the economy that resulted, but the moment that people decided to stand up for themselves, the moment they as children saw something new in their space. Even if Judy did miss seeing the Tigers play that evening, they were left here with a memory that would last forever. They saw the beginning of it all.

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This is family, this is love. This is my Detroit.

After lots of hugs and repeated goodbyes, I said goodbye to this city once again and my family. I’ll be back but for now I have to go. Indianapolis bound. Onto the highway and headed out, it’s a fairly straight shot to Indy, about 5 hours southeast. There was rain starting in Detroit and current downpours in Indy, I assumed the overcast day would hold, even if it was warm out. For this reason I hopped right on the bike and hit the road. The ride itself was the uneventful part, other than the lack of rain and clouds I prepared for, so that’s where my chocolate tonal conversion happened today, on this wonderful stretch of I-69. I at least found a nice Harley shop to make a stop at along the way where they had a little history of Harley Davidson museum set up inside. It was a nice break from the heat and fast riding.

Here’s the interesting thing about this stop. I intended to go to Indy either way to see my family. Though my father requested that I arrange a dinner for my sister, brother and I to meet with him while home. Why, you ask? To discuss his funeral and end-life wishes. It was just weird. Not that he’s sick or anything, he just wanted to randomly get this stuff taken care of and settled. This ended up after a last minute location and time change being a dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. Not the place I’d assume one would have such an important conversation, but alas. It was. Now he and I had spoken before, I knew that he wanted to be cremated and no sad funeral, but a celebration of life. Which if you know my dad, he’s a character, so there will be plenty of stories to tell. The upside is that it was easy.

The decisions actually ended up being pretty simple. Green cremation, no funeral but a memorial service, no tears, each of the kids gets a vial of ashes, done and done. It’s a strange thing to discuss the death of a parent beforehand, probably the death of anyone, not just a parent. Even with the tumultuous past we’ve had I don’t revel in the idea of it by any means. Though there is something to be said for getting everyone on the same page, I’ve seen too many families (including my extended family) torn apart over a death and the fallout from dividing of things or what someone would want. I refuse to see that happen between my siblings and I. In the end I guess this was a positive. Conversations like this are hard to have but important to sit down and hash out.

Other than this it was good to catch up with my brother and sister. We actually had a long conversation after dinner, just the three of us. We talked about job changes, kids, life stuff. I feel like this was honestly probably the first of these we’ve ever had with just us. It was good, really good. Enough so my sister suggested we do it a few times a year… a few is adventurous but I’m in. Living where I do now it’s the first time I’m close enough to do real weekend visits, so I need to take advantage of that. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten closer and I really cherish that.  Beyond this the rest of the night has been exhausting just from being tired. I pounded that ride out so fast and in the heat, it was short but exhausting. The night ended with some talk time with my mother in the kitchen, hilariously showing her how use Netflix, and a phone call that pretty much had both of us about dozing on the other end of the phone no matter how hard we tried to keep going. Smiling and fighting I accidentally dozed off like some little kid. Sleep won, sitting in the oversized armchair in my mother’s family room, everything just seems right with the world… at least at this moment.

Detroit to Indianapolis

Day Eleven: Actual Mileage – 331 miles Best Song of the Day – “So Amazing” by Raheem DeVaughn Best Moment of the Day – Family Biggest Laugh of the Day – These milk chocolate tan lines

Day Twelve Today was just a busy work kind of day; running errands, tightening some nuts and bolts on the bike, looking for a shirt to represent my hometown Harley dealer, working on the blog, paying the bills, etc. Busy work. In other words it’s been a boring but important day. These are the kind of days I need sometimes just to play catch up on life during a trip like this. The upside was that my sister brought her kids over in the morning to spend the day at my mother’s house so I had two of my favorite little people in the world around all day. Through the work there was lots of playing and goofing off with them, at ages 5 and 8 they’re at those great periods where they love playing with one another and just running all over the place laughing their heads off. We had a notion to go to a movie but they couldn’t decide, and by the end we just had a good time at home.

Eventually I got things wrapped up and ran to the Harley dealership, I found a number of things but only snatched up two. I was supposed to head to my cousins house and have a patch sewed on the vest as my patches were mailed here to Indy. We kept missing each other though, so the secondary thoughts was to have dinner with my mother. Knowing I was out in the morning, I knew I wanted to have some good conversation time and with her before all was said and done. So we headed out to a Mexican place that my sister recommended Red Habanero. The meal was subpar, the service was even less, and I about cursed this man out when he didn’t listen to my mother when placing her order. I don’t take kindly to anyone disrespecting the people I care about. He almost caught it that evening. Either way it was good to catch up and fill in gaps about things going on in my life and things here in town. I miss these moments with family, they’re important and necessary for sanity.

 

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As the night drew to a close I kind of wanted to take it fairly easy but ended up running to my boys house. Big Red had picked up a shirt for me on clearance sometime back and gave it to his mom to hold onto for me until I came to Indy. Growing up together we watch out for each other like that and admittedly will pick up odds and ends for each other and have a strangely close but awesome brotherhood. I’m best man in this dudes wedding in a few weeks and I couldn’t be looking forward to it anymore than I am. Back to the point at hand though, a quick stop turned into an hour or so of time spent with basically my second parents. It’s all good though. Dirty Red is the prez of the oldest black club here in town, he and the wife are too cool. They always watched out for me when I’ve needed and are always a stop worth making. It’s also a good chance to catch up and talk shop, catch up with my Indy people and ride, it’s always a plus. A true sign that family isn’t necessarily by blood.

Once I got back to the house I had to do a quick load of laundry as I wanted everything clean before heading out. I actually was leaving a day early because of an unplanned stop that I decided to make a few days ago. Now I’m just trying to pull everything together. So getting everything in the dryer before bed is the plan, a late night snack, and shutting it down for the evening. Tomorrow I hope to catch the kids again as well as my aunt on the way out of town before I leave. So it’ll be a busy start but I just have to make sure I stay on target tomorrow. Time to make it happen.

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How is it that bathroom wisdom is often the best wisdom.

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America Jr. and Growing Up

“How interesting it is that men seldom find the true value of life until they are faced with death… We all have but a short time on this earth. As slow as time can be it as also fast, swift, furious and mighty and then it’s over. Jack Kerouac is dead. Andy Warhol is dead. Garry Winogrand is dead. Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore and William Eggleston are not dead yet, but probably will be at some point. Charles Bukowski once said that endurance was more important than truth. Charles Bukowski’s now dead. When I’m not taking or processing the pictures I’m mostly thinking about the pictures.” ~ The Happiness of Pursuit

While this quote is a segment from two separate parts of the text I found them both telling the same story to some extent and reflective of the same message my day showed me. Even though he ends up talking about the arts and photography in particular it made me think of the idea of fragility. Its no surprise that sudden shock or fear can make someone suddenly see life in a new way, that happened to me years ago when I almost died in a car accident caused by falling asleep at the wheel. Over the years though not so dramatic moments have forced me to take a look at my life and realize what’s important. The biggest though was probably realizing not that I almost died in some way, which I have multiple times, but realizing my life as I thought it would be was dead. I always thought that I would have children, be a parent, an amazing parent, an amazing grandparent, etc. That I could essentially fix all my stuff by being a solid parent. I hinged everything on that. Then doctors told me it would never happen. I fell into a dark hole and proceeded to destroy the world around me. It took time to come out of the depression, more time to begin to heal, more time to stop being angry, more time to stop feeling sorry for myself, and finally time to be okay with the person I was and be happy with who I am. See, this was a loss of my dream life, the imagined, the hope. Losing hope is a powerful thing and it can rock your world. I lashed out in ways that weren’t me, until I figured out it was me. This was who I am, and I was complete the way I was. That embracing my flaws was as important as my strengths. It wasn’t death I was afraid of, but life. I was afraid of living an unfulfilled life, especially in the way I imagined it should play out. For me it was about knowing that life can be fulfilling in so many ways and seeking out what fulfilled me positively. That was my quest for the moment, my journey was one of setting new goals and challenges that would begin to shape my new path and finding contentment within that. Though it was also about learning that I couldn’t allow my happiness to be singularly defined by one incident or stage in life, that it was a play waiting to be acted out, not a single scene or act that meant success or failure. It took a long time to learn that, I think I’m honestly just learning that finally within the past year… and that’s okay. Acceptance isn’t always a settling, but often a challenge of its own. 

Day Nine Many years ago, when the Simpsons used to be a show worth watching on a regular basis they once had a joke where they referred to Canada as America Jr. I’m not sure why, but for some reason this stuck and I found it hilarious. That being said, I unfairly refer to Canada, still as America Jr at times and I think based on my new experiences in Montreal, I need to apologize to the Canadian people. You’re a highly diverse country and not like America at all, you actually seem to all get along without the overt racism and ugliness. Kudos to you Canada, especially Montreal with your plethora of ethnic peoples living harmoniously amongst one another. Clearly we have it wrong, maybe we should be eating way more poutine… is that the secret, gravy and cheese curds? Either way you were awesome. Now I’m onto Toronto.

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A necessary stop before leaving the city, and the country. Harley Davidson Montreal for souvenirs for my road family. 

Today was a fairly dull day. No grand adventures planned just headed up and out to Toronto, actually just outside the city into Brampton and doing the Airbnb thing for the night. I just want a night to relax and sleep, do some laundry since I’m down to my last pair of underpants (something to really think about when on the road) and get an early start for the states tomorrow. Especially since I’m going out of my way and backtracking a little to get to Niagara Falls before heading for Detroit.

That being said, I got on the road early morning and got up and out. Yesterday was a great day in the city, Montreal definitely feels like a weird mini-Paris and that was exciting, I miss France and it was a nice little taste of that world again.

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Airbnb treated me right last night!

I ended doing the Airbnb thing again, and up stayed at the home of a woman from Jamaica named Shelrica, and it was an awesome stay. She was very welcoming, immediately threw my laundry in the wash for me and was as pleasant as can be. 20170722_082511 I couldn’t have had a better stay, the place was super comfy and the other guy staying in the house who had been here for a while was also a huge help, David. This was a good stay.

The only downfall to this evening was I was hoping to catch up with my friend Matt from the area. He’s a carpenter who does high end furnishing, carpentry, and art pieces – really an all around awesome dude. He’s a former skater who loves his kids and has a web series called Bluebird on YouTube that’s worth checking out, it’s oddly quirky and weird, in other words right up my alley (check the trailer here, though it’s on episode 5 already: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNB8HFp4ND0). Nonetheless, Matt was the other one of the roomies from my semester abroad in France back in 97, Ed being the other roommate who I stayed with a few days again in Jersey City. So these last few days have kind of been a crazy reunion and French throwback for me to say the least. They were actually filming episode 5 today so they went late into the night and we missed each other. Which really stinks, he’s one of the most genuine guys I know, unabashedly himself which is a great person to have in your life. So next time.

Really that was about it for the day, other than a quick run for a bite. Mediterranean was just what I needed to hit the spot, shawarma and baklava did me right. In the end I was just thankful to have a simple day under my belt. It was a decent ride here for the day, a little longer than I thought at 4 hours before hitting rush hour traffic outside of Toronto, so it ended up being about 5 with a little change. I can’t really complain. Along the way I even met some good guys riding home to the area, they kindly informed me that my estimation of the kph to mph ration was highly wrong. I guessed that the speed I was holding around 85mph was close to the 100kph speed limit, damn metric system. I was wrong.

The riders, Dino and Kelvin, informed me I was doing closer to 160kph, and that the Canadian highway patrol is severe so I should slow down. Not too mention that pretty much anything over 50kph speeding will get your bike impounded for a week… no sir. So after marking the limit on my speedometer with a grease pencil I finished up the rest of the ride here under control and in good standing with the CHP. I also at a block of cheese while on the road and a few croissants, today was alright. Tomorrow I’m making room for some family time, so it’s time to call it and be ready to make moves in the morning.

Day Ten Today was an interesting day as I battled rain throughout most of the day but also was all over the place to see the sites and try to wisely maneuver the roads of Canada to avoid the toll road, because who bothers to carry cash nowadays, especially Canadian dollars. That’s crazy talk. First thing is first, the rain was already creeping toward me as soon as I got on the road as early as 8am, but I had plans I was going to keep no matter what. I was off for the falls and a place I hadn’t seen in probably 10 years, but this time from the Canadian side. At about the hour mark of the ride the rain started, not a downpour but enough that I had to throw on the full leathers. An hour later I pulled up into Niagara Falls and it was already crawling with tourists. I knew I wasn’t going to stay very long because I wanted to get to Detroit sooner rather than later. A little driving around showed me that parking was going to be a beast and I was going to have to get inventive if I was going to find something close to the falls themself. So a quick illegal parking job on the end of a row allowed for a quick street crossing and being right at the horseshoe of the falls.

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I have been to Toronto multiple times so I didn’t feel the need to do much in the city this time, in much the same way that even though it had been years since I was in Niagara I didn’t feel the need to do a boat tour or anything crazy. I just wanted to walk the street a bit and see the falls and this side of the water. I will say though that Niagara is pretty cool, the falls are massive, it doesn’t matter where you see it from. That in itself makes you respect the power and majesty of it all. Every now and then when I see something this physically impactful you just have to appreciate it differently when here, it’s not like a photo or digital image, it’s the real deal. Not too mention you get wet where we were, that spray was something else. 20170722_104659 This was a pretty good stop besides the construction on the road that was a little frustrating getting here. Now it’s time to head toward home.

After heading out of downtown Niagara and getting onto the highway again I had to backtrack the 95 miles back toward Toronto and then course correct myself toward Detroit. There’s two ways to do this, the most popular and direct being one that brings you in through the Windsor Tunnel and as I said earlier, through Canadian toll roads. I thought I’d avoid this and try something new, the ferry at Walpole Island that crosses directly over to Algonac, MI over the St. Clair river. I figured this would be a mini adventure and I was right.

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Looking out to the St. Claire river

The ride to the ferry was a four hour journey of rain, back roads and rural highways. Not exactly the ride I thought I’d be taking through Canada, and definitely a test of my “when you’re lost, just keep driving” theory. The back ways of Ontario are once again like much of the Midwest, cornfields, and sketchy looking small towns that had me a little concerned but I kept on until I hit Walpole Island, followed the signs and eventually to the ferry stop / border crossing.

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Walpole Island, Canada… time to make the crossing.

This was actually a nice opportunity to put some of my gear away and take a break to cool down and the ferry was across the river still and I could afford some water as well as time to post a video to the Facebook page. When the ferry got back across, they unloaded all the cars coming over and then loaded us up. I was ready to be home.

This is where it got a little weird. Before loading the ferry I looked for signs about a fee or for more info, there was nothing around there and really nothing in the area. The crossing was in the middle of nowhere, so you it was a bit of a surprise when the operator asked for $5, U.S. or Canadian, it was all the same. Which makes no sense! I mean the exchange rate should count for something! Alas, I’m complaining about nothing since I had no cash at all, just a pocket full of just under $2 in change. He told me the captain may decide to take me back over and I’d have to get money and come back, I asked if I could hop off and run across the street and get cash and come back as I saw there were stores just across the river, he didn’t think that would work either. I was in a bit of a pinch.

Ultimately this guy was pretty cool and he agreed to cover my fee for me with the promise that I did something to help someone else out. Which I like to think I look for the opportunity when it arises, so I’m continuing to do the same as I always do, but trying to be more aware. It’s good to see there’s still good people out there who like to help and encourage others to do the same. At that point it was a quick unloading and a fast check back in at the border and with directions to Detroit under my belt I hit the road.

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Back on U.S. soil and in the hand shaped state of Michigan!

My family in Detroit is awesome, they’re definitely some of my favorite people and always have been. We’ve lost some of them over the past 10 years or so and that always hurts my heart. I love these people. So it was on the road through Detroit and to Southfield where I was staying with the family. Originally there were a number of the cousins coming to get together at the house, I’m not sure what happened but it ended up just being me and the family that I was staying with. That was okay though, I haven’t seen my cousin Holly in a while, especially outside of a funeral or sorrowful occasion that left much time to talk. So it was good to spend it with her family, her daughters and husband were welcoming, full of questions about the bike, and this all reminded me why I love my family. I felt at home from the first second. Her oldest daughter Chris just turned 27 and Jean her youngest is 12, that’s crazy… I barely remember them as babies and little kids. I think this was also the most I had ever spoken to her husband and that was great to get to know him better. It’s a reminder for me that I need to stay better in touch with family, and friends for that matter. You never know where the time will go.

 

Quick background, Hope and Holly are twins, Ricky is their older brother. Growing up we used to take the train to Detroit to visit and we thought it was amazing. That train station was something special. Now it like much of the city is in bad shape and needs saving, in this case after a water main broke beneath it and the station and they never repaired it due to cost and left it essentially underwater for years. Either way, they were always my favorite cousins, I loved spending the night there and hanging with them, while only 10 years older they felt much closer and to me they were always the coolest to me. Their mother Jean helped me make the area my own during grad school and I miss her still. It was good to come back and be reminded of all the good memories of going around town with them and taking in the sights before the city fully hit the place it’s in now.  Now of course everyone is married, moving, has kids, etc., it’s good to see them all and remember what’s important.

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The family, minus one 27 year old, but including an intense card playing little girl!

First it was catching up, getting settled in for the night, and moved my stuff off the bike, and then after a meal off the grill we laughed and joked. We talked about the trip more, the family back home, my cousin’s random need to collect things and had lots of laughs on top of great food. Lastly to end the day we broke out the cards, definitely a family thing no matter where I am. Usually spades would be the game of choice but it was high time I learned to play, badly, but learned to play bid whist. I’ve never seen a 12 year old get so worked up over cards, Jean is definitely one of us and this was definitely a great end to the day. A solid ride today, at least 3 distinct bouts of heavy rain, a border crossing, some serious heat from the sun, but it was all worth it for moments like this.

Brampton to Detroit

Day Ten: Actual Mileage – 389 miles Best Moment of the Day – when my boots dried out Best Song of the Day – Nelly “Air Force Ones” Best Meal – home cooking by family!

I’m going to try to bring this full circle and reconnect to my reflection here a bit. In the end, today was a reminder about what’s important in life. Valuing those we have while we have them and focusing on the things that can be fleeting. Recently someone important has come into, back into, made their presence / role more distinctly important in my life, so this had me thinking about her. In the past I’d have fought something that caught me off guard or by surprise, I’d guard my heart. I feel like I can’t do that anymore. If I’m going to embrace risk and chance, change, then I have to do that completely. Especially when it’s someone who has been in your life for so long and just arm’s length away, sometimes you have to grab on, and hang on tightly, cherish it while you can. I’ve lost a number of people who meant so much to me in the past few years, but more so throughout my adult life. Those all hurt, still. I can’t imagine anymore not taking the chance to tell someone how important they are no matter the outcome. In 10 years friends become confidantes, confidantes become special, and special becomes loved. Never take those people for granted, truly special people in our lives (whatever their role) are a rarity. Life is too fragile. I’m not holding back anymore. I’m all in. 

Tomorrow I head to see my family back home and I can’t wait. Indy bound, Midwest boy coming home.