A ride without a destination

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by wittyusername, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. SmilinJoe

    SmilinJoe Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2009
    Pryor, OK
    Scott, Thank you for your post. Some of us here are still dealing with the "Demon" inside. I ride bikes to take me away from the "Demon" if just for a few hours or days. I thank you my friend for exposing yourself to the world. That dear people takes a man to do that from a machine like Scott. Some will understand this and some never will. Thank you Scott for not being a Pussy in this nation full of them. Be safe my friend, find your destiny and carry on. Oh and the bear story put the biggest smile on my face. I reacted the same way the time I saw a bear. Thanks.
  2. 7t9cbx

    7t9cbx Adventurer

    Jan 9, 2019
    lancaster ky
    ok let me share a story . I bought a nice 2001 zo6 corvette several years ago. several months afterward the body control module went bad in costing me several hundred dollars. I didn't get upset about it altho it was not the ideal situation. I replaced it and it has been 10 years of fun since then . The moral of the story is that you do not even agree with yourself some of the time , enjoy the greater good and move on
    wittyusername likes this.
  3. X-wing fighter

    X-wing fighter Do or Do not, There is no try!!!!!! Supporter

    May 11, 2017
    Ester, Alaska
    It depends on which bike I am riding on how I am dealing with the demons that day. If I'm on my dual sport, I'm seeking peace and I'm running away from them. I feel lighter than air and almost invincible on a good ride.

    If I am on my Buell, I am releasing the demons on to the road. It's violence and chaos laid out on the open road at high speeds.......... It's not peaceful, relaxing, or safe. I'm not proud of this and it scares me. But it's the closest thing to a combat zone to feed adrenaline to the demons. After they are fed well, they do give me short respites of peace.

    I have to find a way to release my demons before my demons hunger for more from me than my fear and adrenaline to quiet them.
  4. pro69ss

    pro69ss Been here awhile Supporter

    Aug 28, 2018
    St Petersburg
    Thanks for the RR plus some , very interesting!
    X-wing fighter and wittyusername like this.
  5. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

    Sep 12, 2008
    SW. Idaho
    the most about the Buell is 99% my wife was on the back. Our daughter has it now, traveled more as a friend loaner on trips than I rode it.
    the same weapon in different hands.
    Snapper33 and X-wing fighter like this.
  6. wittyusername

    wittyusername This is the spot for my custom title

    Jan 15, 2012
    Anytime brother. Shoot me an e-mail and I'll give you my personal cell. Call anytime if you need someone to talk to. ScottChapman.ADV@gmail.com

    Also, feel free to share this ride report with any other vets who you think might like it too.
    Snapper33 and SmilinJoe like this.
  7. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

    Oct 12, 2005
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Subscribed from NZ!! :wave

    Best wishes!

    wittyusername likes this.
  8. severely

    severely almost a noob

    Jan 26, 2013
    odessa MO/donna TX
    I might respectfully add steadiness of character, demeanor and speech; and a sense of humor; the ability to laugh at oneself. edit; apology; I forgot to thank you for your wonderful and revealing report. Keep riding.
    Snapper33 and wittyusername like this.
  9. Snapper33

    Snapper33 Globetrotter Supporter

    Jan 5, 2017
    Worldwide, home based in the United States
    Remember that many of us are here for you, anytime. We continue to survive through teamwork.

    Brother, early on with me, having no real self-understanding of what was occurring, with my mind trying to cope, I naturally bounced around searching for things that would assist me in patching gaps. I had adrenaline gaps, risk-taking gaps, and recovering from the "high's" of combat gaps. The adrenaline and highs of combat are a drug to the brain, and when those things suddenly stop by returning to home's normal life, withdrawals occur, and the withdrawals permeate your thoughts, actions, dreams, and desires....desires to return to that high. Mixed into this for us with PTSD are the shocking things, disgusting things, and sad things that caused some of our adrenaline high in the first place, but which are understandably undesirable when seeking a pure return to combat high, as these triggers sting when they return. The bad returns with the good.

    I filled some gaps by running more miles, and longer distances; to the point of injury. I filled some gaps by parachuting more; to the point of injury. I filled some gaps by sailing, and sometimes taking weather and safety risks; resulting in concerning my wife and receiving some less-than-fun, one-way discussions from her. I filled some gaps by driving my Porsche 911 too aggressively; resulting in... a hell of a lot of fun, but risk of tickets or worse, so I calmed it down.

    My work life was bringing a lot of the high back as I was still training by parachuting, shooting, conducting raids, flying in helicopters, breaking things and blowing shit up. The downside was that some of the before mentioned bad was returning with the good.

    Motorcycling is an awesome demon-chaser, or demon-squasher. You may need more than that, let us know please.
  10. wittyusername

    wittyusername This is the spot for my custom title

    Jan 15, 2012
    I've only been on the road for about 6 weeks but it feels like 6 months. There's a scene about 1/2 way through the movie "Long Way Down" where Ewan has an interesting realization. He says that he "finally feels like he was on the trip." At that point in the movie they were in some beautiful and remote place in Africa. Charlie and Ewan already rode thousands of miles and crossed over a dozen borders when Ewan made that statement. It took months for Ewan to finally enjoy the 'now' and feel like he was 'on the trip.' What does "enjoying the now" mean? It means that you're not riding from palace to place and meeting predetermined timelines or obligations. Charlie and Ewan rode for months in the wilds of Africa in order to arrive at the illusive moment of peace and Zen. I'm nowhere near that moment.

    I'm about 4,000 miles into this trip but it feels like I'm just down the street. I'm literally a 1/2 day ride from 'home' and a mountain of stress. This doesn't feel like the trip I've been yearning for. This doesn't feel like the trip I so desperately needed. This doesn't feel like the trip I set out to accomplish. What does it feel like? It feels like I'm just on my bike running errands all over the country. I've painted the picture of Zen on this journal because I'm trying to focus on the positive instead of giving attention to chaos that is my crazy life.

    About halfway through my trip I received a FRAGO (Frag-O). What is a FRAGO? In literal terms it's an abbreviation for "Fragmentary Order". What is the definition of a FRAGO? A FRAGO is used to modify an Operations Order without reissuing the entire order. How is it relevant to my story? I was on my trip and received some new information that caused me to change directions. I'm still on my motorcycle trip and making progress to find peace. However, somewhere along this journey the Universe presented two interesting choices. To help others or continue helping myself? I can't do both. By now you should know me well enough to guess what path I chose.

    “...And the wolves will learn what we’ve shown before, we love our sheep we dogs of war.”

    Yesterday we lost the house that I was planning to buy. We were days from closing. My wife has been living in a apartment while I sorted out the chaos and put out fires. I lost it because I decided to invest in a selfless decision that'll benefit the greater good. I know it's still the right decision. I know it'll be worth it.

    These are some of the major chess pieces that I've been making over the past few weeks. Every day I'm faced with two or three major decisions to navigate. Decisions that most people only need to make in 1 lifetime. It's not until you lose everything that you're free to do anything.

    You, the reader, only know what I've shared with you. You only see the sliver of light coming through the cracked door that I opened for you. I've barley cracked it open so you can see the potential of the story within. I've haven't dangled the carrot to keep you hooked on my wild story to gain more views. Instead, I've now dangled the carrot to keep a timeline of real-time events as a cryptic code that will make sense one day. Consider this to be a historical document. If events continue along the path that have been methodically laid out, historians will refer to this real-time journal when studying the origins of the greatest invention since the printing press.

    How's that for dangling a carrot?

    Let's take a left turn and talk about the power of words.

    There are only 26 letters in the English alphabet. 26 iitty-bitty little characters that are arranged in an agreed upon order that make sense to everyone. That 'agreed upon order' forms words. Those words are organized into groups to form sentences. Those sentences, when strung together in a particular order, can initiate a physiological reaction inside your brain. When you read sentences (and words), neurons fire inside your brain. When a unique string of sentences is recognized, then a new connection is made inside your brain. Those new connections are called thoughts. Amazing right? All that from just rearranging those little 26 characters in the right order.

    One cannot underestimate the power of words. Have my words made you cry? They're just innocent little words right? I can't read Ryan's funeral story without tears streaming down my face. Words can encourage people to act. Words can bring nations to war. Words can paint a masterpiece in your mind. Words can end psychological pain that some of us feel. Words can save lives. Words can inspire others to create new thoughts. Words can also bring people together and make them feel less isolated.

    The words I wrote in my Texas Tornado Bootcamp ride report spoke to one of our classmates. None of us could properly pronounce her name because it was a traditional Japanese name. Maybe it was lazy of us...or maybe we were drunk. But Colin called her "Honda" during our game of Crud and that name just stuck. Honda and I spoke a few times at Camp but I didn't realize the impact my words had on her. She was very shy at camp but it appears she listened to every word that I spoke.

    She's from an area of the USA that's mostly absent of veterans. She's a grown adult woman who works in a professional field that, too, is mostly void of veterans. She was absolutely clueless of the struggles our veterans face on a daily basis for no other reason than she just hasn't been exposed to it. I use the word 'clueless' not to show ignorance, but to show innocence. Her innocence and sincerity was heartfelt.

    She knows 1 or 2 vets but they don't let her into our world on that level. Most vets don't. For whatever reason, they don't share their experiences to her in a way that you're reading here now.

    I'm happy that I was her initial point of contact to help her see what it's like on my planet. Maybe my interaction with her will initiate new conversations with her uninformed peers.

    She keeps up on my ADV journal and we talk on a regular basis. She's a lovely person and I'm happy to call her a new friend. She was so moved by my words that she mailed me a gift for the road. She mailed me a Japanese Traffic Safety Amulet. It's a holographic sticker and it's pretty cool. I didn't want to put it on my Zega bags along with my other stickers. It needed its own unique home on my bike.

    I received the package when I was in S. FL for my deposition. But I just opened it the other night....a full week after I received it. Why did I wait so long? I received the letter in a stack of bills, junk mail, and other garbage. I didn't want it to be the next thing I opened after looking at my cell phone bill. I wanted to give the letter the attention and respect it deserved. It was like opening a Christmas present. You wouldn't want to open Christmas presents after you unclog the toilet. Would you?

    I waited until I was mentally present. I'm glad that I waited because this sticker is way cooler than I imagined. I immediately put it on my bike. I put it in a place where It'll be visible when I eventually take my Zega bags off one day.

    Ms. Honda, thank you for the amulet and thank you for your friendship.


  11. SmilinJoe

    SmilinJoe Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2009
    Pryor, OK
    Thank you for the offer brother. This journey is for you to feed your demon. Reading your words helps identify, see and recognize the demons we have. Keep up the great work. This is the greatest read I have done on this subject matter. Definitely the best RR I have ever read on here. Be safe brother. Yes I am sharing it.
    wittyusername likes this.
  12. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem Supporter

    Jul 20, 2007
    jaw ja

    let me know

    i'd join ya
    wittyusername and dano619 like this.
  13. Madscientist

    Madscientist Been here awhile

    Aug 8, 2011
    Oxford, MS
    This is intriguing. You seem to be embroiled in events that are distracting from the goal- to ride! If you think new insight and personal wellness in your life can develop by taking a long ride, then full commitment is required. It is not selfish to take some healing time. The sun will rise tomorrow and the world will go on without you on the treadmill. Jump off and decompress for your health!
  14. wittyusername

    wittyusername This is the spot for my custom title

    Jan 15, 2012
    I wish it was just that easy my friend. Black or white. Left or right. I wish I was just given 2 simple choices.

    Every decision I've made over the past few years must satisfy multiple timelines simultaneously. These timelines are not static. They're constantly changing and the difficulty is increasing as I advance up the board. I'm playing 4-D chess. If it was just my life/happiness on the line then my route selection would be a lot easier. But it's not. The current route selection decision is for your benefit, too. Not just mine. You don't know it yet. Seems that my notional 'opponents' are increasing the difficulty as I continue to navigate my chess pieces up the board. I'll sort through this. I always do. Maybe we're living in a simulation after all.

    My trip isn't over. Not by a long shot. I will not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. The trip is my prize for a lifetime of sacrifice. Maybe the trip is my destination? Either way, what's been written in this ride report is just the appetizer for the main course around the corner.

    Remember, I'm making this journal public to document my life. To let you, the aliens, understand combat veterans a little better. To understand our hidden struggles. Everyone experiences peaks and troughs through life. Everyone has their ups and downs. This is nothing new...just take a step back and look at a larger sample and it'll be easier to see in your own life. Everything in the universe operates on a cycle of ups and downs. Rise and fall. Build and collapse.

    It seems that the vets I know have much higher peaks and much lower troughs. When I started this journal I was at the bottom of a deep trough. You've seen me rise up and climb out of it. Every word I typed was like a rung of a ladder to get me out of that valley. Seems that you'll be following me along this next descent down.

  15. danh600

    danh600 Long timer Supporter

    Jan 23, 2011
    South Florida
    Been reading Road Reports on here for a few years now. Most are simple, I went here, I saw this. They add a couple of pretty pictures. They are enjoyable. Kind of like reading a magazine while you wait in an office or while taking a dump. The RR causes a few minutes of enjoyment then fades from memory. Nothing wrong with those. I like them.

    I can count on one hand the RRs that really make you think or touch you. Some because the person is a great writer. Some because the poster can do magic with a camera. Some because of the experiences that occurred as the report went on. Many things can make a RR great.

    Then some provide a certain insight that's hard to get anywhere else. You just sit and read and think deeply.
    This is an epic report.
    I really hope you will continue.
  16. wittyusername

    wittyusername This is the spot for my custom title

    Jan 15, 2012
    Thank you for your kind words. This report is not done...not by a long shot. I'm working on a long post and wanted to pop back in just to say that I have not abandoned this project.
    SmilinJoe, wilfred, btrrtlwtr and 3 others like this.
  17. ObdewlaX

    ObdewlaX Adventurer

    Jun 14, 2009
    DFW Area
    Just got in on your ride report. Traveling solo is fun and offers plenty of time for introspection & soul searching. Plus, when you're on your own, you ride to your schedule... go when you want to go, stop when you want to stop, stay a little longer than planned if you feel like it. Thanks too for your service, good luck & travel safe on your journey... I hope you find what you're looking for.

    PS. Stand Up For Betsy Ross indeed... great shirt for a good cause. :thumb
    wilfred, steved57 and wittyusername like this.
  18. wittyusername

    wittyusername This is the spot for my custom title

    Jan 15, 2012
    This is going to be a long post because it may be my last for a while.

    It’s not a “read at a stoplight” kind of post. Sit back. Relax. And buckle in for a deeper look into my world.

    My first post was shocking because I typed it with nothing but pure-unfiltered rage pumping through my blood. It was shocking because it was the only outlet I had to funnel what was keeping me up at night. I realized that I needed to make a drastic change in my life the day I spent 2 hours swinging a maul at a gigantic pile of firewood just to work the rage out of my system. Remember how Mr. Fancy Pants lawyer was fidgeting in his chair to work the adrenaline out of his system? That afternoon with my maul was no different from Mr. Fancy Pants lawyer squirming in his chair to throttle down his anger. This ride report / journal is also no different. I swung that maul until my hands bled and then I swung it some more. Figuratively speaking, I planned to type until my fingers bled too. I have a lot to say.


    I woke up the next morning just as angry as I was when I started swinging that maul. When I was walking through the parking lot on my way into work the next morning, I was so deep in thought or deaf by rage that I didn’t even hear a co-worker tell me “good morning.” My fists were balled up and my jaw was tightly clenched as I was walking through the parking lot at 6am. My fists were balled up as if to physically hold down my shield or facade of calm. Remember, I’m too disciplined and professional to let strangers to see my raw emotions. At least that’s what I thought.

    Later that same day I couldn’t contain my anger for a second longer. My co-worker noticed that I was more quiet than usual. I was also distant and deep in thought. He asked me if I was ok. I said, “Yeah, I’m fine.” About 10 minutes later, he continued to press and ask what was going on. I was at the end of a tall isle in the warehouse which made me feel like I was cornered. I felt like the walls were moving inwards and about to suffocate me. I was wearing a safety harness while using the order picker machine. It felt like restraints. I was standing on the order picker machine and was a full foot taller than my co-worker. Then I snapped at him, “You know what, I’m not fine!” I stood over him like a giant and vomited 5 minutes of pure, unfiltered rage on this poor guy. The boxes on the shelves were vibrating from this tsunami of rage pouring out of my mouth. I was foaming at the mouth and spittle was being projected as I laid it all out for him. I wasn’t mad at him. I was just mad at my situation. I had an emotional reaction. I was emotionally compromised. I was embarrassed and my outburst didn’t make me feel any better. He didn’t think it was a big deal, but I was mortified. I clocked out and drove home because I was rattled. I was mortified because I let my emotions get the best of me. I lost control.

    I’m self-aware and logical enough to recognize this is not normal behavior. I had no intention to split that firewood. I had no intention to vomit all that rage onto my co-worker. The maul wasn’t even sharp and I’m sure my co-worker didn’t really care what I was saying. If I wanted to split the firewood, I’d use my splitting axe and strike it down the grain. If I wanted my co-worker to understand what I was going through, then I wouldn’t have exploded on him the way I did. My purpose was to vent. As I said before, this trip was me pulling the emergency brake on my life.

    If I continued the path I was headed down, I’d be dead in a year. I know the precursors to major health issues in the human body and I took action to reduce my stress levels. I was already quickly losing weight and becoming more reclusive. If I didn’t take immediate action to resume control of my life, then I’d develop cancer, have a stroke, heart attack, etc. Like I said, I’d be dead in a year. I have too much to live for…so get the thought of self-harm out of your mind.

    I’ll explain the dangers of elevated cortisol levels in a different publication. In brief, the intended application of the stress hormone (cortisol) is in short bursts. It’s called “Fight or Flight.” A massive one-off dump of adrenaline / cortisol is a natural and normal reaction that our brain developed in order to protect itself. To survive. However, continuous or sustained elevated cortisol levels cause changes in the human brain. Those changes (or injuries) are commonly referred to as PTSD. News flash...every single soldier who's spent more than a month overseas will show signs and symptoms of this injury. Weather you're walking to the chow hall or actively engaging the enemy, your cortisol levels are elevated. Your brain doesn't know the difference. Your brain always knows you're in danger and is constantly pumping elevated cortisol into your blood. I’m as logical as a Vulcan and too much of a leader to sit back and just let something just happen to me. I am in control of my life and my actions.

    I planned to go wheels up on my motorcycle trip and not tell anyone. I was going to disconnect because I was fed up with it all. I wanted to cut all ties and be alone and quiet. Instead of going dark, I made the conscious decision to do the exact the opposite. I turned the spotlight on and invited you into my world to ride shotgun while I navigate my unique struggles.

    If you aren’t happy with the results of your actions, then do something you’ve never done before. Take control of your life. Don’t do the thing(s) you’ve always done and expect different results. That’s called insanity. As an experiment in my own life, I tried something I’ve never done before. I invited you into my life. My naked and raw emotions are exposed for all to see. I’ve never done this before. The results have been…interesting. One would even say, enlightening. I always tell people that I’m just an observer in my own life. I can easily distance myself from my surroundings in order to see the bigger picture. This experience has been no different.

    This ride report / public journal isn’t my first time experimenting with behavior that isn’t “normal Scott.” I decided to conduct an experiment because I wasn’t happy with my life. I did something that I’ve never done before because I desperately needed a different result. It was the last thing that I could control or had responsibility over.

    Remember, context is essential for a thorough understanding of the story and to achieve an emotional connection with the author. Where else did I take a step outside of my comfort zone?

    Let’s take a step backwards and talk about that job I mentioned earlier. The job where I vomited 5 minutes of pure rage on my co-worker. After I sold my business in the summer of 2018, I was unemployed for 7 months. For 7 months I applied anywhere and everywhere. I desperately applied for job after job after job. My savings were quickly dwindling. How could I be a man if I couldn’t even feed my wife? I even put my motorcycle for sale on consignment at the BMW shop in Daytona. I was coming apart. I was in danger of losing my house and desperately needed just a little more money to take the pressure off. I applied everywhere and anywhere in the little town I was living in. I wasn’t above anything or any job. It was the last bite of a shit sandwich that I was forced to eat. I couldn’t even get a job mowing the grass at a Goddamn cemetery. Thank me for my service by giving me a damn job.

    After applying over a dozen times and two interviews, Lowe’s eventually hired me to work in the receiving department of the warehouse and run a forklift for $12.01 /hour. My co-workers thought I was a corporate spy. They thought I was with the TV show “Undercover boss” because I carry myself differently than everyone else. At first, I was humiliated to work there. Eventually, I decided to lead by example and try to make everyone else’s life a little better - in anyway I could. I decided to project an image of the man I wanted to be. How did I do that?

    I gave leadership advice to my bosses. I supported my leadership even when I knew they were making bad decisions…and I never complained about it. I changed everyone’s perception of a co-worker that led to him earning a (much deserved) full-time position. I presented options to the store manager for Lowe’s Corporate to save money while simultaneously increasing employee satisfaction. I encouraged another co-worker to follow her passion and apply for her dream job. Some of my co-workers have been doing the same exact menial job for 15 – 27 years. I honored them by expressing how much I respected their drive. I gave respect to a vet even after I caught him in a stolen valor lie. Why? If his life is so fragile that he holds on to a lie, then why shatter his confidence even further? What good would that do me? I propped him up and called him, ‘Sir’ whenever possible. I asked him questions that I knew the answer to so he’d feel power over me…and hopefully boost his confidence. And besides, he was the only one who could properly ground guide me on the forklift. He knew I knew he was full of shit. But, no one else had to know. I asked people about their dreams and what they’d do if Lowe’s was gone. Instead of focusing on my struggles, I projected positivity and encouragement to everyone I communicated with. This was by design because it’s something that I’ve never actively done before.


    This is the one story below stands out and highlights, “doing something I’ve never done before.”

    When I was in the break room, I rarely spoke to anyone. I wasn’t anti-social. I was just selective who I communicated with. I have a lot to say but the conversations were typically superficial in nature among my co-workers. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of conversations but I kept quiet and liked to observe.

    Whenever I was in the break room, I’d press play on my favorite playlist, throw in my earbuds, and write. Or when I wasn’t writing, I was listening to music and reading scientific journals published by PhD mathematicians, astronomers, or physicists. It reads like poetry to me. People never try to initiate conversation with someone who’s wearing earbuds and reading about the sun’s magnetic fields.

    I’d use that time to listen to Beethoven, Bach, and the other classics. I was writing about an interesting theory I have about electricity, energy, natural solar cycles, and the universe. I’m calling it the “Theory of Everything.” If you’ve read my Instagram bio, you’ll see that I’m a self-proclaimed “science junkie.” As I said earlier, it’s like saying the Arctic is chilly. I have a knack for explaining complex science to the layperson.

    I was in the break room with Credit Debbie one afternoon. We were the only two in the break room. I was sitting with my back to the wall and she was facing the other wall. I was facing her profile. We were politely ignoring each other. Credit Debbie is a woman who’s around the same age as my mom. She works at Publix and at Lowe’s. I only knew those facts about her because I pay attention to my surroundings and she talks a lot. She always had a smile on her face. She genuinely enjoyed interacting with customers. That kind of overly-friendliness to customers always confused me.

    For example: I went out of my way to avoid customers. In stark contrast to Credit Debbie’s cheerfulness, I found the most efficient route to the bathroom from the warehouse that was less likely to have customers lingering in the isles. It was an efficient route with the minimal possibilities for customer interaction. I even timed my route. You’d be amazed how many ridiculous questions customers ask.

    Want an example? One time I was walking through the plumbing department and some customer asked me, “Do you have 2-inch nipples?”

    “How about dinner and movie and you’ll find out?” I didn’t say that.

    I cocked my head to the side like a confused dog and gave him the weirdest look on my face. “What?” I went out of my way to avoid those kind of people because I had 1,000 smart-ass answers on the tip of my tongue. Each of those answers would get me fired. That’s why I avoided customers…because I have no patience for stupidity.

    Credit Debbie was always happy. No one knew it, but it made me happy to see her happy. I enjoyed watching her smile and banter with strangers whenever I walked past her register. She was kind of a goofy character. She was tall and sometimes wore these knee-high boots with some kind of animal print on them. I always thought she looked like a giraffe when she wore those boots. I never spoke to her until I saw her crying in the break room that afternoon.

    Once again, I was listening to music and pounding away at my keyboard in the break room minding my own business. I looked up to see Credit Debbie wiping away tears and sniffling. This was unusual behavior for her. I imagined my mom working at two low-wage jobs and crying in the break room. I had no idea what she was crying about but it broke my heart to see her casually wiping away tears during her authorized 15-minute break. Humans aren’t supposed to live like this. I stopped typing for a moment to think…should I say something? I’ve never spoken a word to Credit Debbie but I felt like I should say something to her. I closed my computer and put my earbuds away to initiate conversation with her. I looked up from my backpack just in time to see her walking back onto the floor.

    “Great. You missed a unique window Scott.” I sat in the break room all by myself for about a minute and thought about leadership. I’m a man who leads by example. What does a leader do? A leader makes decisions and takes action.

    I walked out to the Garden Center and picked out a tiny little orchid. By the time I made it to Credit Debbie’s cash register, she was smiling again. Her tears were gone. She, too, was holding up a mask to conceal her feelings.

    I paid for the little orchid at her register then said, “I don’t know why you were crying in the break room, but this is for you. I hope it brightens your day.” Her mask immediately fell off and she came around to give me the biggest hug ever. She was crying again. These were tears of joy and gratitude. I saw a fellow human being in pain and decided to pour a gallon of positive energy into her life. Instead of asking why I did that. Instead ask yourself, “Why wouldn’t he do that?”

    She was upset because an injured puppy jumped into her car when she was getting gas on her way to work a few hours earlier. She was sad because the puppy was injured and scared. It cried when she pulled it out of her car. She gave the puppy to the gas station manager because she was now late for work. It broke her heart. This is the kind of pure innocence that we Sheepdogs strive to protect.

    I did something that I’ve never done before and was delighted with the results. She was smiling for the rest of the day because I took 2 minutes out of my day and spent $3.99 to do something selfless. Until then, I was just the weird quiet veteran at Lowe’s who always looked angry. Now, everyone saw that I did, in fact, have a heart. I saw a fellow human being in pain and made a small gesture that probably had a lifelong impact. From that moment forward, she always gave me the biggest and most sincere smile when I walked past her register.

    This journal is an extension of that vein of thought. To do something that I’ve never done before in hopes of achieving a lifelong change.

    What struggles am I navigating? I haven’t even begun pull back the curtain to let you see the big picture. I’ve barley cracked the door. I won’t vomit everything that I’ve been navigating to you in one final “wrap it up” post. My story deserves better. By the time I’m reunited with my bike and ready to ride again, I’m confident that most of the ‘challenges’ will be behind me. If not, then I’ll pick this journal right back up where I left off and ride off into the sunset.

    Either way, I’m going to write about everything because this is a story that needs to be told. This story was set in motion the moment the IRS asked me if I, “felt like I deserved these deductions?” After 28 deployments, 10 years of my life in service to this country, first hand witness to the disgusting waste fraud and abuse of our tax dollars overseas, and then a 2 ½ hour interrogation / interview, IRS Agent Sunny Liu, how fucking dare you ask me such an insulting question? I answered it the same way I answered every question during that ridiculous Kangaroo Court deposition. I answered it with class, professionalism, and tact because I live in a different world than you do. Even my $450 / hour lawyer was amazed of the audacity of that question. You will not get a rise out of me because I’ve already took a tour of rock bottom and figured a way to climb out.

    To sum it up without specifics…I wish, for once, our country loved us as much as we love it. For once, I wish that people were held accountable for their actions instead of skirting responsibility and siphoning hard-to-earn-money from the honest and honorable. For once, I wish a lifetime of sacrifice meant something to the country I/we swore to protect and defend. For once, I wish our country would rush to take care of its veterans with the same ferocity as it does to initiate a war. For once, I wish the sheep understood what their sheepdogs sacrifice so they’re able to sleep peacefully in their beds at night.

    Winston Churchill once said, “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” And that’s the truth. No matter what bullshit is laid in front of my path or how much I’m disrespected by the sheep; I will always defend the defenseless.

    I planned to sprinkle my “challenges” into this ride report over the next 12, 24, or 36 months on my long ride. There’s a lot more details than what I just shard with you. Now…a new chain of events is throwing the brakes on a trip of a lifetime. I intended to keep this journal for the entire trip, but it looks like I won’t be on my bike for a while. As sad as I am to put my bike in storage, there’s an inverse relationship of optimism and hope. I am optimistic about the possibilities that are coming into focus and what we’ve put together. I hope that I can write about it soon.

    New doors presented themselves to me because I did something I’ve never done before. Funny how that works.

    I saw an open window a few months ago and I had to take it. The window was open long enough for me to take a long deep breath and see what it’s like on the other side. I like the view from over there, but responsibility of the “greater good” is pulling me back to reality. The air is stifling on this side of the window but at least I know how to unlock the window now. At best…a 6 month pause on my trip. We all know how fast 6 months can turn into 6 years.

    I go to great lengths to take ownership of my actions. I do not blame others for my situation. What I write about may appear that I’m complaining but know that I am NOT complaining. I am in control of my life and navigating my vessel through some rough seas now. Remember, great ship captains are not made in calm seas.


    It wouldn’t be fitting to press pause on this ride report / journal without finishing the “Man-Checklist.” If you understand this list, then you will have a better understanding of me. Or at least, the kind of man I aspire to be. There are important lessons to comprehend in the list that will help you connect-the-dots why I must press pause on this trip.

    On post # 149 I introduced you to the “Man-checklist.” As intended, it opened the door for conversation. I hope the conversations didn’t end on ADV Rider. I hope that it sparked some conversations outside of ADV Rider between your friends and family. Some of you were probably shaking your head in agreement as you read the list. And some of you were probably shaking your head in disagreement. Either way, I hope it made you think.

    There was an important paragraph in that string of thoughts that was so important to understand that I asked you to read twice. I enjoyed reading your comments, but I feel that I failed at explaining the sole purpose of the “Man-Checklist” with crystal clear clarity. Maybe asking you to “read it twice” was a lazy writer’s trick to skirt clarification. It’s like speaking louder at someone who doesn’t understand your language.

    I’ll try to explain the intent of that paragraph from a different angle.

    The intent of the checklist is not to put you down or to make you feel ‘less than a man’. No sir, not even a little bit. My goal was to lift you up and/or to give you checkpoints to follow. Guidelines for life. Men are not immune to insecurities. We’re made of the same organic materials that women are made of. Yet, somewhere along the line it was socially unacceptable for a man to expose his feelings or insecurities. Men typically don’t have the luxury of exploring feelings because we (speaking in generalities) are wired for logic and reason. I often say that “I’m a logical as a Vulcan.” However, just because we are wired for logic and reason doesn’t make us immune to insecurities. Even Spock can be emotionally compromised.

    If you took offense or felt slighted from my words, then I would suggest maybe your own insecurities might be hindering your understanding or comprehension of these guidelines. After all, they’re just little words. Don’t let some stranger on the internet dictate how you feel.

    Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Everyone is an expert at something. Don’t let my words dictate how you perceive yourself.

    In order to comprehend the elevated symbolism of the checklist, let’s try to view it from a different perspective.

    We’re roughly 11,500 years from our Hunter-Gatherer origins. We’ve made tremendous strides in technology from the days when we had to grow our own food and hunt for survival. We’ve grown to become a very comfortable as a species. One might even call it lazy or reckless. How have we become reckless? What if the grocery store stops providing you food? Do you have the knowledge, tools, and leadership skills necessary to continue to provide for / protect your family? We’re always 3 meals away from total anarchy. Do you know how to grow your own food or how to clean meat? Do you know how to organize and lead people? These are important skills to cultivate.

    We’re a fragile species. Realistically and biologically, we’re not all that different from the Hunter-Gatherers that we think are ancient relics. We’re just caveman with cell phones. In order to understand the elevated symbolism of the Man-Checklist, one must view the world from the point of view of the Hunter-Gatherer AND of the modern-day man. Hence, the ‘well-rounded man’.

    Do you know what real hunger looks like or feels like? I do. I think it’s safe to say that most of you have never seen the true face of hunger. I’m not talking about the kind of hunger when you missed lunch or if the pizza delivery guy is 2 hours late. That’s not hunger. That’s inconvenience. I experienced true hunger when I was in Ranger School and in the mountains of Afghanistan. In Ranger School, I watched the overtly strong and arrogant collapse because they couldn’t take ‘it’ any longer. I was energized when I saw the arrogant quit or cry in the dark. I wasn’t the biggest or the strongest, but quitting was more difficult than moving forward. Therefore, I was a mental giant. I, too, was starving, delirious, and hallucinating. Instead of ingesting food, I fed off their weakness. That’s the face of hunger.

    This is the mindset you need to cultivate in order to see the elevated symbolism of the “Man-Checklist.” When the world is collapsing around you – what kind of man will you be?

    If you still don’t “get it”….then back up and read that section twice. I presented checklist numbers 1-5 on my previous post. Here are numbers 6-10 for your consideration.

    6. A knife you can trust your life with is the next item on the list. Yes…we have two deadly weapons on the list. One is a firearm. Its sole purpose is to take a life. Its higher symbolism is a conversation about a man’s role as a protector and provider. How is the knife different?

    A knife can, indeed, take a life but it has many other uses too. It’s a tool. It serves multiple purposes. If we are going through the trouble of adding a knife to this important list of essential man items, then we need to make sure this knife is one you want to take to your grave. Quality is important. Men appreciate quality tools and craftsmanship.

    A man should take pride in his tools and his weapons. The knife on this list shouldn’t be a 4-inch pocket folder that you bought at a gas station. That gas station knife isn’t worthless, but that’s not the point.

    The knife on this list should be a functional work of art. I’m not talking about fancy carvings in the handle or laser engraved show-knives stored in a case mounted on the wall. The beauty in this work of art comes from its craftsmanship and functionality. A man should own a knife that he’s proud of. When you friends come over, you should feel the urge to show your friends your new knife. “Hey, check out this new knife I picked up.”

    It can be worn on your belt as part of your EDC (Every Day Carry) items. Folding knives are nice and certainly serve a purpose, but the knife you can trust your life with must be a fixed blade knife made of high-quality steel. The type of steel and how it’s forged is important.

    In my gear layout I mentioned a ‘long story’ about the knife I was carrying. I trust my life with that knife. When I pick this journal back up, I’ll fill you in on one of the strangest dudes I’ve ever met and why his knife recommendation had so much weight.

    7. A dog: Every man should own a dog. There’s a reason why people say that a dog is a “man’s best friend.” Our connection to dogs is rooted deep within our DNA. It doesn’t matter if it’s a badass German Shephard bite-dog or a tiny tea-cup poodle. The breed doesn’t matter. What matters is the man’s role in caring for his dog. Dogs are the most innocent and pure creatures put on this Earth. Dogs are absent of ego. Dogs choose us. They want nothing more than to serve their masters. To make their master happy. What a man does with that responsibility and innocence speaks volume about his character.

    A dog is your loyal companion. A sentry in the night to guard you while you sleep. Your dog is a reflection of you. Your dog may be an accessory in your life. But to your dog…you’re the center of its universe. How you honor that unconditional love shows the world what kind of man you are. Strive to be the kind of man your dog thinks you are.


    8. A nice watch: Every man needs a nice watch. The style and price of the watch is relative to the individual man. A “nice watch” might be a $100 Citizen for one man…or it might be a $5,000 Breitling for another man. The price is not important. So, what’s important?

    What’s important is how it makes you feel. Do you act differently when you dress up and wear nice clothes? I’ll bet you do. This isn’t a watch just for special occasions. Wear it as much as you want because this watch reminds you to be classy, respectful, and have manners.

    In order to be leaders, we must make every effort to show respect for others. Showing respect for others shows that you care. Caring for people is the fastest way to build a bridge. The easiest way to show respect are simple manners. “Yes, ma’am.” “No, sir.” “Excuse me.” “Please and thank you.” Do you remember what these words mean?

    9. Be a father: This one stings because I know I’ll never have children. My wife is unable to have kids. I choose her over having children. Back to the story… What good is all this knowledge and leadership if you can’t pass it to anyone? No man is complete until he has someone to pass his knowledge to.

    Remember, it’s all relative.

    Just because I’ll never be a father doesn’t mean I won’t have kids. Stop looking at this list from a literal point of view. This ADV project is like my baby. I’m passing some of my knowledge on to you. I’m opening the door and letting you into my life. Know this…I have not yet begun to write.

    When I initially presented this “Man-Checklist” to you, I said the items were in no particular order. That’s not entirely true. #10 is last on the list because it’s the peak of the pyramid. It’s the most important and needed to be explained last.

    10. A Brass Vase: You must always remember the story of the Brass Vase.

    I told you that Vijay and I came up with this checklist when we were sitting around a fire overseas. Let me paint the scene for you. Close your eyes and just imagine that you’re sitting around the campfire in Afghanistan. You’re at some remote postage-stamp sized classified base in the middle of nowhere. You’ve carved out a little hidden area just for your team so the Client will stay out of your business. The bad guys can’t see the fire you’re enjoying – so there’s no need to worry about attracting mortars or small arms fire. There’s plenty of guards on the wall to protect your moment of peace. It’s well over 80 degrees at night but the fire is always welcomed. You had a long day and you are half-way through a long deployment. Your closest friends are to your left and right of you. All my best friends are in Afghanistan. Careful because the wolves are just over the wall. We must always keep out wits about us. As you know by now, it’s easy for me to maintain that kind of control.

    He told me the story of the Brass Vase and it’s stayed with me ever since that peaceful night.

    Left to Right: Madcow, friend you might meet soon, Vijay, and me.

    Vijay is an America-Indian. Dot-not-feather. Born and raised in Wisconsin but most of his extended family still lives in India. He was around 45 years old when he told me this story…so it means this story took place 25 years ago.

    When he was in college, he took a flight to India to visit his family. It was his first time visiting India in his life and the first time he met most of these people. He described the home as if it was more of a compound. There were multiple families living in the structure. It was crowded with multiple levels. There was even an old woman who wasn’t part of the family living in the compound.

    Who was she? She was an old widow with a few kids. She wasn't blood-related to anyone in the compound. Her kids also lived in the compound with Vijay’s family. The old woman’s husband died about a decade earlier. He was the sole income provider. The family gave the widow and her kids a place to live after husband passed away.

    After her husband died, the old widow woman worked in a sweatshop sewing all day. She worked 12 hours a day without any days off. It was thankless and miserable hard work. Even after working so much, she still didn’t make enough money to survive. There was no way she could care for her children if it wasn’t for the generosity of Vijay’s family.

    Their culture is vastly different than ours. Woman aren’t given the same opportunities as they are given in 1st world countries. She gave the host family all the money she earned from working in the sweatshop. The host family didn’t really need the money though. The old woman wanted to earn her keep and was too proud to live rent-free. Sewing was the only skill she had. Therefore, she sewed all day and was grateful for a place to sleep every night with her children.

    In Indian culture, it’s customary for any visitor to be showered with gifts when they arrive. The gifts don’t need to be anything expensive. It’s truly the thought that counts. When young Vijay arrived, they threw him a welcome party. He was pulled in 3 directions at once – opening gift after gift from people he didn’t really know. There was a feast and plenty of superficial conversations. The Brass Vase only stood out because it was a weird thing to give a 25 year old college student. He told the old widow thank you and then opened the next gift. Not a moment of thought for the most thoughtful gift a man can receive.

    The party ended and he stuffed everything in his extra suitcase. Vijay had a lot to see on his short vacation. He traveled from place to place and saw the touristy sights. Typical stuff for a 25 year old college student. By the time his trip ended he needed a vacation from his vacation.

    He mailed the suitcase of gifts to his parent’s house in Wisconsin and flew back to college. The Brass Vase was now patiently waiting to be recognized.

    Fast forward and Vijay was now a staff sergeant in the Army. He’s in Iraq and thinking about his trip to India when he was a kid. He was thinking about all that stuff his family gave him. That huge suitcase with all the crap in it. He wondered if the suitcase was still in his parent’s basement. It's been years since he's given it a moment of thought.

    Vijay started to think about that Brass Vase and old widow. What a strange gift to give a 25 year old man. He began to piece together the significance of that little Brass Vase and what it meant to her...and what it represented.

    The old widow had nothing. No husband. No money. No house of her own. No land. No relatives. No one to protect her. No life. No future. No hope. She had the clothes on her back and 3 other mouths to feed. Even with absolutely nothing to her name, she still worked extra hours just to afford that little Brass Vase. She worked extra hours for months and months in anticipation of Vijay’s arrival. She saved up just to save up enough money to buy that little Brass Vase as a symbolic gesture of gratitude.

    It all soon became crystal clear. “Oh my God…she did all that for me. She didn’t even know me.” She was grateful for a place to live and wanted to express her gratitude in the only way she could. She gave her time. The physical Brass Vase wasn't relevant...it was what that little Brass Vase represented that made it a monument to selflessness. She gave hours and months of her time so she could extend a sincere "thank you" to the host's visiting family member. An immature boy who didn't appreciate the gift of someone else's time. Vijay didn’t recognize the gravity of the gesture until he was a man.

    When Vijay came home from Iraq, he called his mom and dad to ask about that suitcase and the old widow. He wanted to cherish that Brass Vase and finally thank the old widow properly. He wanted to give her the most sincere and heartfelt, “Thank you” she’s ever received. He needed to let her know that he recognized her sacrifice.

    Vijay learned that the old widow died several years earlier. She died penniless and under the roof of her host family.

    Vijay also learned that his suitcase, along with the Brass Vase, was sold in a garage sale a week earlier. He was kicking himself for not immediately calling to ask about his suitcase. Why did he wait to call his parents? Why didn’t he act when he finally recognized the gift? That little Brass Vase was gone forever. Sold for $1 or likely thrown out in the trash. He was heartbroken that he didn’t recognize the symbolism of the little Brass Vase when he was a young man.

    The Brass Vase is a reminder to stay humble. A reminder to recognize the sacrifices of others. Time is our most valuable asset. We can’t buy more time. We’re not given more time than what we’re allowed to have. Our time on this planet is a gift. Giving your time to others is the most pure form of selflessness. You’re giving moments of your life away. When my wife’s dad was on his deathbed, he whispered that he “just wished he had more time.” He’d give anything for just a few more months to spend with his girls. How you spend your time is a reflection of who you are, as a human being. Will you spend it helping others or satisfying your own ego?

    How do you want to spend your time? For me…I choose to continue to spread compassion and positive energy because I’m tired of fighting for my life.






    Thanks for reading and thanks for your time.

  19. wittyusername

    wittyusername This is the spot for my custom title

    Jan 15, 2012
  20. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

    Apr 13, 2007
    Traveling in the US
    wittyusername likes this.