On May 17, 2011, Kristen’s brother and best friend passed away at age 32.
As I look back now, 8 months later, I am accosted by the reality of such a tragedy. The tears have flown freely and often and though at times the weight has seemed unbearable, God’s grace has eclipsed even death itself, as it was surely designed. Without the presence of Holy Mercy, I cannot fathom how Kristen or her parents would have been able to move forward.
We have spoken often of the monumental spiritual growth that has come from all of this. Years before May 17, Kristen was being molded into a woman that would not only take a tragedy like this with faith intact, but also would radiate hope and joy during such turmoil. Literal days before Ryan passed, a book arrived in the mail from a friend. It was sent rather mysteriously and consumed quickly. The book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, weighed heavily upon Kristen’s heart and provided invaluable insight to what was about to occur. And so, when sorrow struck, when the terrible news fell from my mouth, she immediately gave thanks to God for her brother’s life FIRST. Before the tears. Before the mourning. Those words of thanks were meant for me as much as they were meant for her. I was reminded of how significant this was recently when I came across this quote from Saint John of Avila:
“One act of thanksgiving when things go wrong with us is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.”
From that moment, we have moved forward hand in hand, gratefully (and tear-laden) exploring the path that was revealed when Ryan died.
A month passed before we realized what had to be done. We couldn’t stay in San Antonio. For Kristen, she needed to spend some time living wildly and extravagantly for her brother. For me, I needed to take care of my wife by giving her adventure. So, we bought a BMW R1200 GSA in Texas and rode it to Claude Stanley Motorsports in Pennsylvania to have a custom sidecar built.
To up the ante even higher, we decided to sell it all: our toys, our furniture, our cars, our house. It was time to get serious and do some living.
We rented a car and filled it with all the gear we would need for our new motorcycle and sidecar rig. All that was left to do was to head north, with a few sidetrips involved…
Gallipolis, OH – October 12, 2011 – RUNNOFT
Niagara Falls, CA – October 15, 2011 – Video: Niagara Falls
Middleburg, PA – October 16, 2011 – Video: Middleburg, PA
Niagara Falls, CA – October 19, 2011 – Niagara Falls (Photos)
Newport, RI – October 21, 2011 – Lakes, Giant Pumpkins, New England Clam Chowder (the white), Mansions and the Atlantic
Vermont and New Hampshire – October 23, 2011 – Vermont and New Hampshire
After having a wonderful time exploring the NorthEast by car, we finally picked up BigBoy and started roaming around. Finally!
Seeing as we have some wonderful friends in NYC, we of course had to take BigBoy to the Big Apple. Who knew we would stay 11 days!
We then continued south, hitting one of Kristen’s highlights for the whole trip. Philadelphia sang sweet, lucid tones to my wife…
We then made our way to the coast and spent some chilly nights in the sand.
Asheville, NC – November 15, 2011 – Rehoboth Beach to Asheville
Virginia Beach, VA – November 17, 2011 – Video: Virginia Beach, VA
Savannah, GA – November 24, 2011 – Video: Happy Thanksgiving!
Savannah, GA – November 26, 2011 – South Through Charleston and Savannah
Charleston, SC – November 27, 2011 – Mobile Upload: Charleston Gets Urban
With much of the east coast conquered, we found ourselves in Florida and were greatly surprised (shocked, really) by what we found there.
Florida – November 29, 2011 – Snowbirdin’
Florida Keys – November 30, 2011 – Mobile Upload: Driving the Keys
Key Largo, FL – December 1, 2011 – The Keys
Key Largo, FL – December 2, 2011 – Video: Dreams Do Come True
Tampa Bay, Fl – December 4, 2011 – The Everglades and the Gulf
With Christmas quickly approaching, we headed back to San Antonio to spend the holiday with our families.
New Orleans, LA – December 9, 2011 – Mobile Upload: NOLA Sneak Peak
LA and Texas – December 14, 2011 – The Road Back to San Antonio
Houston, TX – December 16, 2011 – Mobile Upload: TX State Line
San Antonio, TX – December 20, 2011 – Video: BigBoy Walkthrough (Thoroughly)
But the adventure has just begun! South America is calling for February of 2012!