Picking up on yesterday's post... The trip officially started for me on Friday night. After work, my friend Randy, my daughter's boyfriend Josh and I rode a couple of hours from where I live now to my boyhood home, a couple of hours northwest of here. We had arranged ahead of time to stay with Greg's parents. Greg's parents and I obviously share the loss of Greg, but we also share a similar outlook on life, and they know me about as well as my own parents know me. This means that we have a lot more to talk about than Greg. Naturally, we spent some time reminiscing about times with Greg, but that was not all we talked about. This is a good thing, because I suspect that if we'd spent the evening focusing on the ghost in the room, Randy and Josh would have felt a bit awkward; I didn't sense any awkwardness coming from them. Gary and Sue (Greg's parents) were awesome hosts, offering us food, beer and control of the TV remote. We stayed up until relatively late in the evening watching Full Metal Jacket on Netflix and talking about I-don't-know-what.
We were up early the next morning, and we all sat around the table drinking coffee and eating breakfast. After breakfast, Randy, Josh and I met up with Bill and Darin for the day's ride. Bill is a very close friend of mine (our friendship goes back to high school), and Darin is the friend I mentioned in my last post. The day's ride was a poker run fundraiser for suicide awareness... a ride that Bill had told me about as the trip was being organized. Choosing that as the first day's run was a no-brainer. Even better, the trip allowed -- nay, encouraged -- cars, so Gary, Sue, and Greg's brother Doug (who has become my friend in his own right), attended as well. Darin's daughter Alissha also participated, riding on the back of my bike and taking video of the goings-on.
It was a warm, sunny day. Almost perfect, except for the wind that started whipping up around halfway through the trip. We put just shy of 175 miles on our bikes that first day. I spent a LOT of time enjoying the day and living in the moment, sometimes forgetting the somber purpose of the ride, and always enjoying the company of those with and around me. Every now and then, I remembered what the ride was about. Sometimes I felt a twinge of sadness. Most times I thought, "Greg, you dumbass! Why did you have to do that?"
The end of the poker run brought all of the riders/drivers together at a local bar and grill, where a raffle was held and various prizes were awarded. The organizer opened up the microphone. That actually scared the crap out of me. I was worried that people would tell the sad stories of their own loved ones' suicide. Fortunately that didn't happen.
After the poker run ended, we all went back to Gary and Sue's house, had dinner and watched Blazing Saddles, which is one of my all-time favorite movies. We all laughed at the stupidity of the show and drifted off to bed relatively early.
The next morning, we were all up around sunrise. We enjoyed another breakfast and coffee together, and then hit the road for our journey around the state. The poker run, and staying with Greg's family was an incredible way to bridge past boys' trips with the journey that was about to occur. The past met the future. This is not the end of honoring Greg's memory though, nor is it the end of the adventure. Stay tuned for the next installment.