May 25th, 2013
I’m starting to get used to this change from comfort to camping, roof to road, luxury to loneliness. It’s a funny thing to become accustomed to change. I wonder if I will eventually get to a point where lack of change becomes unsettling and change becomes the norm. For now I’m just trying to adapt to each day as it comes.
I take off from the Westin Hotel in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina and start heading east. I’m hoping to make it to the east coast by tonight. I get right back into the swing of things and spend an easy day of riding through forests and small quaint roads.
At one stop, a man calls me over to his car and says he has something for me. I , half excitedly and half curiously, walk over to him and he hands me a coin and what looks like a two dollar bill. On each is written the Ten Commandments. He tells me he is an employee of God and seems very pleased with himself. I thank him sincerely for the gifts and for taking time to talk to me.
After he leaves I wonder who these gifts were for. I know on the surface they are evidently for me but I wonder who gained more in the end. He didn’t seem too interested in me and didn’t know if I knew the Ten Commandments or not already. A part of me feels that he does this to feel better about himself and have purpose. If that is the case, that is alright with me; as long as no harm is caused, people can do whatever they want and I am not one to judge what has more or less purpose in life.
I continue on and wonder if people think doing a long motorcycle trip is pointless. They’re entitled to think what they like and I appreciate the opinions of others. As for my own opinion, I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
I push my luck once again by trying to go as far as possible before sunset and find myself racing around the swamplands of eastern North Carolina with less than an hour of light. I can’t seem to find any place suitable to hide my bike and tent for the night so I begin heading for the only state park in the area as a last resort if I don’t find anything on the way. It is a relatively small park consisting of plenty of swampland. Just before I am about to turn down some off-road trail in the park that seems suitable the ranger approaches in his truck.
I’m annoyed because the presence of a ranger can mean two things; either there is no camping or there is and it costs money. Both options are unappealing to me. He pulls up to me and greets with an apology. The campground is full and it is illegal to camp anywhere else on the premises. He can tell that I’ve been riding all day and am in a bind because sunset is in about 20 minutes so he thinks for a bit, unsure, then makes me an offer. If I wait for him outside the park, he’ll lead me to his house where I can pitch my tent on his yard. I gratefully accept.
I follow him through the dark to his nearby house, set up my tent and spend a good 2 or 3 hours chatting with him. He is a new ranger, 23 years old and holds the belief that people are generally good. I encourage his philosophy and tell him that it takes courage to do good and how it would have been much easier for him to simply follow protocol and leave me high and dry especially since his home is technically state property and he is not supposed to bring campers there. I’m impressed that this ranger is so humble about offering real, tangible help not for the purpose of feeling better about himself but for a higher purpose: simply to do good.