​              Revival in the Heartland

Looking for Answers in the American Mid West
Fall was here, and I was anxious for a long ride.  Things had been hectic since my return from the Maritimes, and I wanted to get away.  I wanted to explore, and lose myself in adventure, and a trip to the Mid West would be the perfect cure for what ailed me.  It was harvest time, and I wanted to be there.

I also needed time to contemplate a life altering decision.  Retirement.  I will be eligible in 13 months.  I have a good pension, and with a paid up mortgage and my son out of college, I can live quite comfortably on it till the end of my days.  Social Security will just be an added bonus when I reach 65.  If I plan to retire at the end of 2003, I will have to tell the fire department something soon. 

I needed answers.  I have to think about life without the fire department.  Is my life so defined by what I do, that I will fail to function?  How will it feel not to go to work every 3rd day to the clubhouse atmosphere of the firehouse?  Do I want to take on new challenges in life, or be forever content in the job I've carried out the last 25 years?  

My son will finish playing ball in the spring, and enter the real world.  I will no longer have ball fields to hang around.  I thought about that on this trip.  It has been my honor to watch him play for the last 17 years.  What will life be like with no baseball?  He has been a tireless worker, and it earned him a free education.  But more then that, he played to give something back to his family, in the best way he knew how.  All these questions needed to be sorted out, and a long ride was the best therapy I could think of.

But why the mid west?  You have to be a true Long Rider to understand.  I love riding the lonely, empty roads of the Great Plains.  They allow me to think, and to be by myself.  The Heartland is a special place, filled with hard working people, who have a sense of life few possess. 

This tour proved to be a challenge.  A cold front gripped the mid west by the time I left Alabama.  I spent 2.5 chilly days crossing the Great Plains, from Missouri to Ohio.  I rode across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, in cold, dreary weather.  One day of this tour, contained the toughest miles I've ever put down.

One of the specific goals of this tour was to finish my quest of the lower 48.  I did, and I feel really good about it.
I finished the tour in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina at the Eastoc rally.  For some reason I felt compelled to be with my brother riders at this time.  I wanted to share my 48 accomplishment with them, it seemed fitting.
It was a fun time, with good riding.

So, take a ride with me, and see if I find the answers to the above questions.

October 22, 2002