Spiritual Journey

This was a 4,000 mile vacation, I was riding two-up with my husband Earl on his Harley Davidson Heritage Classic instead of taking my own Heritage and we were riding with 6 other people on three bikes and one vehicle.

Riding two- up may be second nature to some couples but to Earl and me, it was a challenge. Two people, both control freaks on one bike could spell disaster. It was totally out of character for me to want to ride pillion but I felt compelled.  That does not mean that I didn’t have trouble with it, I don’t know if the point was not riding my own bike as much as it was I was leaving my fate in the hands of another.

Traveling Companions

Vickie G. is a very good friend of mine and has traveled with us before. She met a man online some months earlier that she had been talking with and they decided to meet for the first time during our journey.

The others riding with us were John and Faye M. from our local Harley Owners Group and Bob and Deb Welch from our Christian Motorcyclists Association.Image

A faith left behind

I wanted to get lots of photos, but more importantly I wanted to devote my undivided attention to figuring out why I had let my relationship with God slide almost into non-existence. So I climbed on behind Earl and off we went.

I didn’t lose faith through a crisis or a major life changing event, it just slipped away a little at a time when I wasn’t paying attention.

I really had no idea how to embark on the journey back to God. I didn’t know where I was going on this spiritual journey, I didn’t know how to get there and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to arrive at my destination but God had been gently knocking and it was a journey I felt compelled to complete.

 

Mishaps, random or not

For a while it seemed like this vacation was a series of random mishaps, a near miss with a pickup, two deer running out in front of us at two separate times, going to hot into a corner almost losing control and crashing, but looking back on it I know it was much more than that.

On the first day of our journey our route took us from Gillette over Chief Joseph Highway (WY 296) and Bear Tooth Pass (US 212) to Red Lodge Montana.  If there really is a God’s Country, this is it. The scenery was majestic and the riding was magnificent.

I got lots of photos but was having trouble catching a glimpse of God. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough; maybe I was looking for fireworks and big neon signs.

Group Prayer and a near miss

We stopped in Livingston MT for gas and as we were all standing around talking, a gentleman walked up to us telling us he saw Bob and Debbie’s CMA colors and walked over to say hello and offer a prayer for safe travel. It turns out he knew Bob and Debbie but we found a new friend also.

I completely missed the significance that the prayer for safety would have on our lives shortly.

We continued with our travels and rode from Red Lodge to Butte MT, then onto Missoula MT and over Lolo Pass (US Highway 12). Unparalleled riding.

When we were leaving Missoula we were cruising along as lead bike of our group of four bikes when a pickup pulled over into our lane and almost hit us. It was close enough to make my husband cuss and my heart race. I didn’t spend much time thinking about the fact that we didn’t get hit and we were lucky to be able to continue on our vacation though I did say a small thank you to God for keeping us safe.

We took US Highway 12 over Lolo Pass. Located in the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains, this is an amazing motorcycling road that presents riders with 99 miles of motorcycling utopia.  {Photo 99miles} It is one of those “Holy Cow that was fun” roads. I was being blessed but I didn’t realize it and certainly didn’t appreciate it.

Things are starting to happen

Somewhere after Lolo Pass but before we got to Lewiston ID (US Highway 12) we had the defining moment of the trip for me, it was from this moment on that everything changed.

We were in mountainous terrain and the road was twisty and curvy. Earl knew that Bob and Deb needed gas but so far we had not come upon any stations. Suddenly, on a curve, we came upon a gas station. Earl decided we needed to stop but we were going too fast and we were almost past the entrance.

Earl admitted later that as fast as we were going he should have never tried to make that turn. As soon as we left the highway and hit the gravel our back tire locked up and we both thought that we were going to crash. I was preparing myself to die. Earl told me later that in his mind there was no way we weren’t going to crash.

Earl used everything he had, everything he had ever learned about handling a bike until he had no more to give. Our right foot pad was dragging in the gravel, we were certain we were going down, in the next instance we felt the bike straighten up as if by magic. We could physically feel a force correct our bike and guide is to safety. Was it Divine intervention? I have no doubt that God put His hand on us and guided us to safety. However, the thing is He guided more than just our bike to safety. He was showing me the way home, I felt it,

Sleeping on the ground has a certain charm

We traveled from Idaho to Washington on State Highway 14, stopping at The Dalles OR for the night. Earl and I, John and Faye and Vickie all got motel rooms each night but Bob and Deb continued to stay in campgrounds.

At first I thought they were a special kind of crazy to spend 16 nights in a tent on the hard ground but soon the stories that they shared with us had me thinking differently. I was a little jealous as I began to look at what they were receiving in exchange for sleeping on the ground. {Photo Bob and Debbie}

God’s love showcased through CMA

This is where I first saw on a national scale the power of the CMA fellowship.

God’s love and power was showcased through that yellow patch on the back of a leather jacket.

A chance meeting with a CMA member in a parking lot that ended in a group prayer. 

Coincidental meetings with CMA members in almost every campground they stayed in. 

A motorcycle broke down on the side of the road brought to restoration. 

Two people of God (that we barely knew) joining us on this journey.

A crash averted, twice.

It is amazing indeed.CMA Colors

Bridges, Clam Chowder and a broken bike

We continued on Us Highway30 along the Columbia River Gorge. This was beautiful country and the riding was amazing. We crossed back over to Washington side and ended up at the Pacific Coast and Astoria OR.

Beautiful bridges were plentiful in the area we rode through, Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks OR and the astounding Astoria-Megler Bridge in Astoria OR were both breathtaking.

Bridge

On the coast we ate more clam chowder than I thought humanly possible. We found the most unlikely fish and chips restaurant in Astoria. It was an old (and I do mean old) boat, moored on a grassy lot. They cook the fish on the boat and you eat it at three picnic tables outside under a lone tree. The menu consisted of two items. A whole order of fish and chips or a half order of fish and chips. It was the most delicious albacore tuna, (breaded and deep fried) that I have ever eaten.

We followed Highway 101 south down the coast to Crescent City and finally Eureka CA where we ended the coastal part of our journey.

 

Homeward bound in more ways than one

Milt G. (Vickie’s new beau) met up with us in Crescent City CA.  He traveled in an SUV with us on the remainder of our journey.

Milt and Vickie, John and Faye and Earl and I all continued to get nightly motel rooms.  Even with ocean views at our coastal motels I still felt somewhat jealous of what Bob and Deb kept reporting was happening when they were camping. I truly think that God made it possible for all of us to be traveling in the same group at the same time.

 Though they have no idea, in a quiet, unobtrusive and non-judgmental way I believe that Bob and Debbie helped me to find my way back to God. There is a spark that explodes into fire within them that is all about Jesus.

They proudly wore their CMA colors every day and I must say the response was overwhelming. I believe this couple of God seeks to find where God is working and they go there. They have a passion to reach out to those who are seeking and the tools from their involvement in CMA allow them to be effective.

As we turned in an easterly direction toward home we meandered through Oregon seeing Crater Lake National Park, Hells Canyon and Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

Crater Lake is a caldera lake in south-central Oregon (off highway 62) and is famous for its deep blue color and the clarity of the water. It was strikingly beautiful and if there is any question that God is Creator of this great earth, this place surely puts those doubts to rest.

Busted but not broken

From Crater Lake we headed to Baker City OR intending to make our way to McCall ID through Hells Canyon. It was a sweltering hot day and about twenty miles outside of Baker City we noticed that Bob, Debbie and Milt were no longer following us.

We went back and found that Bob and Debbie’s bike had broken down and they were stranded along the side of the road beside the only tree for dozens of miles.

Debbie says that God really didn’t want them going into Hells Canyon!

Milt and Debbie traveled back to Baker City (which was amazing since Milt had just met them a couple days earlier, I am sensing a future CMA member!) to find parts for the bike.

Is it an accident that on this blistering hot day that their bike broke down beside the only tree for miles and miles? I doubt it. Bob had stayed with the bike and took advantage of the God given shade to study the Word and wait for Debbie and Milt to return.

Unfortunately, not knowing the area Debbie and Milt were taken advantage of by an unscrupulous motorcycle shop owner. Not one to let circumstances get her down Debbie put a call for help out on Facebook to fellow CMA members. Before the day was over Bob and Debbie had been reunited, their bike had been towed, a loaner truck secured, and the tent was pitched in a cool, shady campground, all because of their involvement with CMA.

 It was amazing (but not unplanned) for me to watch this unfold, for there was peace of mind in Bob and Debbie that with God in control all would be ok.

We continued homeward bound with Milt catching up to us the next day. It took a couple days for Bob and Debbie to get the bike fixed and they weren’t able to join us the rest of the trip, apparently their work was done. I am grateful and will never forget the time they did spend with us on this trip. God worked through them in an amazing way.

The conclusion but not the end.

I think that God put me on the back of my husband’s bike for very good reasons. I really was powerless back there and I had lots of time to reflect on the events that unfolded over the miles.

Our 4000 mile journey was indeed epic, the scenery was spectacular, the riding was legendary and the people we rode with became fast friends but that is not where the beauty of this trip was found. God showed Himself to me through CMA and through Bob and Debbie Welch.

I found my way back home to God.

 That is where the true beauty lies.

Dottie at Pacific Coast

Spiritual Journey

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