Tonight I met a couple nice gentlemen. I had been wandering the area on my motorcycle for at least 15 miles and an hours worth of time. I could not find a place to camp anywhere. Finally I found an RV park right on the edge of Ochlockonee Bay (don’t worry, I don’t know how to pronounce it either). They were closed. As I’m standing there trying to figure out what my plan is, two guys drive up, roll down their window and ask if they can help. They had seen my Combat Vets patch and being vets themselves, wanted to help. They confirmed that there was in fact tent camping and if I’d just follow them, they’d show me where.
After I began setting up, one of them walked back over and invited me back to his trailer where they were having dinner and I was welcome to join them. Unbeknownst to me, they had already eaten. He had his wife whip up some pasta and toast and they fixed me up a big plate.
One of the guys had to leave but I sat and chatted with the couple until it got to the point where I was yawning more than talking.
He was a Marine Vietnam vet. He’s been struggling with PTSD his whole life. That, along with depression and isolation. All of the classic crap we all seem to have in common. It was heartbreaking to hear his story and his continuing struggle with the VA. He got out in 1972. It has been 46 years and he still isn’t receiving proper treatment. He’s given up. Not mentally or physically, just on the rest of the world caring enough to help him. He drove a big truck for 43 years and says that driving was a treatment of its own kind. He also rides a 1998 Harley that still “purrs like a kitten” and has provided many miles of therapy. He gets me. I get him. We’ve know each other for a couple of hours and we parted with a hug, as brothers.
As I walked over to the shore to take a final picture I couldn’t help but to think of myself as lucky. My experience was horrible. It felt like it took forever. But the pieces have fallen into place. The VA is paying me my due. I am getting treatment. I have a sense of peace in that there are no loose ends. Compared to this gentlemen, I am so lucky. It could be so much worse. I could be forgotten, trying to fix myself.
He is doing well and he is happy. His wife is amazing and she is his happy place, just like Megan is mine. He would consider himself lucky. I wish him the best. I truly do.
I hadn’t planned or writing a “deep” post today but I want to write the thing that matters most, at this moment.
On a lighter note.
My route today was definitely not a high speed route. It took all day to do about 250 miles. I followed the Gulf Coast of Florida from Pensacola to Navarre, Destin, Panama City and finally to here.
The significance of here? From about this point, I’m going to start heading North. My journey going East has ended. It’s taken about as long as I planned, meaning I had no idea how long it was going to take and I’m happy to be here. Several milestones in my planning for this route have been met and I am very happy with
I am optimistic for the future and I haven’t been able to say that for a long time.