Awhile back .. I told you the story of my meeting a character named Richard Zehm .. and our memorable ride into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Hopefully, you’ve been lucky enough to have dined at “Bubba’s” .. stayed at the quaint little Western Motel .. or found yourself at the world famous “Million Dollar Cowboy Bar”. To this day, it’s still one of the most awesome bars I’ve ever been privileged to visit .. not only because of it’s genuine rustic appearance and character, with the old saddle seats at the bar or the “million dollars worth” of vintage silver dollars laminated under all the bar tops for customers to inspect through genuine awestruck eyes .. but primarily because of the unique personal experience I had there and mentioned in the Zehm story as an “upcoming read”. Well .. today’s that day.
I often tell people “I’m a pilot .. I fly a Harley Davidson about six inches off the ground”
I probably had already ridden over 5000 miles as I wandered the southwest prior to meeting Richard .. and had begun collecting several patches and pins for my soon to become legendary vest. It’s essentially a wearable journal that never ceases to tell the stories I’ve probably forgotten already. Now the inside of the vest is nearly full and I have a huge bag of surplus pins and patches that found no room on my identity’s treasure. But on that particular day .. there was plenty of room for what has become one of my most sacred treasures .. the Sheriff’s Star from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
As I said .. this place had character .. and to me, “character” means more than any fame or fortune. The decisions you make in an instant are the ones that define your true character .. and I’ve grown to believe your true character is reflected by the decisions you make when no one is watching. That’s who we really are .. even though our character is evidenced by the scars left behind by many of those “decisions” we made. Often times .. the scars cannot be seen .. but they cannot be erased. Life “is” about our choices .. as I’ve often said before .. but the good news is, each day provides us with the opportunity to make even more. The choices I made that left scars .. gave me the wisdom to make even better decisions as “pain” became my most brilliant teacher. Enough food for thought for now .. back to the story.
As I walked into the bar and “saddled up” .. undoubtedly, I was a rather unique character in my road warrior attire .. beard, biker gloves, vest & gators (half chaps) .. wallet chain, boots & bandana .. and my face probably looked like it was well weathered. And though I’ve chosen not to acquire any permanent tatoos .. I often tell people I wear many scars .. because they make for better stories, and I never did have any form of identity crisis. I’m the original “wysiwyg” .. “what you see is what you get” .. simple as that.
There were a few pool tables .. one right next to my saddle at the bar .. and I sat next to a traveling couple who became engrossed in my appearance. Consequently, I was hit with a barrage of questions .. to which I didn’t mind answering at all. When they asked me what I did .. I often tell people “I’m a pilot .. I fly a Harley Davidson about six inches off the ground” .. but then I went on to tell them “I just commit random acts of kindness” .. and that seemed to bring a smile.
The real difficulty was this .. playing pool at the table next to me was a stone-cold, drop dead gorgeous Goddess! I could barely take my eyes off her as I answered a bizillion questions .. and she couldn’t help but hear my conversation and catch my blatant stare on numerous occasions. She even saddled up next to the couple .. listening more intently and catching my direct eye contact as often as she could. She was shooting pool with another man .. so I suspected her allure was with due caution.
As he made his way to the men’s room .. and I inspected every inch of her “Catholic School Girl” appearance .. perfect body, legs and flowing long hair .. I became even more mesmerized and awestruck. All of a sudden, she walked straight up to me and grabbed my hand .. placing a napkin in it and closing my fingers over it with hers .. and then her angelic voice pleaded these words to me .. “PLEASE call me in the morning .. PLEASE .. you just look like someone I can trust”. Then she hurriedly went back to the table as if nothing had happened. I was dumbstruck .. but before I stashed the napkin in my vest I opened it and it just read “HOPE” … with a phone number. The couple had left .. and her pool partner soon returned and eventually grabbed her arm for an immediate departure. Not before our eyes had directly met numerous more times .. and she voicelessly pleaded “please call”. Yeah .. I don’t have nearly the room here to discuss everything that was running through my mind that night .. but I do like to spark your imagination from time to time.
Of course I called her the next morning .. you think I’m an idiot? But what I heard touched my very core. She, and her young son, were in a very abusive relationship and she had nowhere to turn and no one she could trust. Her grandmother lived in Pocatella, Idaho, and she was desperate to find a way out of her predicament. To make a long story short .. I hired a moving company to pick up her belongings and deliver her and her son to Grandma’s. The next day she was gone and her “boyfriend” didn’t have a clue what happened. One of my finer moments .. if I do say so myself. And maybe this little “adventure” says something about true “bikers” .. as often times we do things for the right reasons .. and make instantaneous choices that directly affect lives and futures.
Now here’s where the story gets even more ironic and interesting. Days later I was in Hulett, Wyoming .. where I met Bob Coronato from last month’s adventure. As I sat in front of the little church listening to the outstanding gospel-rock band with the hottie lead singer .. a man approached and sat down beside me. He said he came all the way from Massachusetts just to find me .. and that his purpose was to give me a book. Wanna guess what the name of the book was? Yep .. “HOPE” Small world huh .. and the picture on the cover of the book looks much like many I’ve taken myself over the handlebars of Bosco while in full motion. Since that day .. I’ve discovered there are 102 cities named “Hope” (as of 2006) .. and I’ve had the occasion to ride through several. Each time I see the name on a water tower or a street sign I think of her .. and I smile.
“Hope” .. in my estimation .. is probably the most important factor in the human “character” equation. Mandella said “hope” pulled him through his years in a cage. One “hopes” they’ve chosen the right faith when they’re faced with the inevitability of death .. yet there is no “wrong” faith. We all “hope” to find the elusive butterfly known as “Love” .. the third of the key ingredients to the mythical equation. Faith .. Hope .. and Love .. without them, man withers and dies.
I spoke to Hope a number of times after her arrival in Idaho. A month or so after I returned to Indiana .. I flew out to stay at one of her favorite Casinos in Jackpot, Nevada, known as Cactus Pete’s. It’s been awhile now .. things do change over time, don’t they. As far as my seeing Hope again .. guess that’s another adventure I will leave to your imagination. I still have the napkin though .. tucked safely away with the memories.
I “hope” you all never experience any of the tragedies I’ve survived .. that each day gives you a reason to smile .. that you pay forward the character of a true biker .. and never hesitate to commit your own random acts of kindness. That .. and I hope to see my kids again soon.
May you have enough Happiness to make you sweet .. enough Trials to make you strong .. enough Sorrow to keep you human .. and enough “Hope” to make you happy …
Until next time .. ride smart .. ride safe
and the Adventure continues …