Episode 46: Motorcycling while Helpless and Speechless and Breathless
Out on another solo long motorcycle ride, from here in Colorado, the direction I chose was East this time, circling into Nedbraska by way of the Pawnee National Grasslands, I met a rancher who told me this story. A large group of Inner City kids from New York were sent to his ranch in the remote spaces of Nebraska. They were sent there to experience something that they had never before seen, or heard, or smelled. These kids where sent to him and his ranch to have an encounter with Mother Nature. To experience quiet. Only the whispers of Mother Nature like the breeze blowing through the trees or the sound of coyotes on the hunt at night. Away from the constant noise of honking cars and other city noises that go on non-stop day and night. They came here to see an open sky free of tall buildings. A sky full of stars. To see the Milky Way. Magical things that never in their lives had they experienced.
He said that he had to sign a waiver promising that the kids in his care would be safe. A lot of legal mumbo jumbo as he described it, like no riding motorcycles, no riding horses. We’ve got to keep these city kids safe. Keep them sheltered and under control, essentially so that he couldn’t be sued. Yeah, all that…
Lucky for kids, the owner of this ranch in Nebraska cared deeply for them, these inner city kids from New York. He’d never seen them before, but he already felt a love for them.
So when the kids arrived at his ranch, way out there on the empty plains of Nebraska,,,, he brought out the motorcycles and he brought out the horses, he let them ride for the first time in their young lives. He changed their lives forever.
Kids need the outdoors. They need a conversation with their mother, Mother Nature. Kids need to hear what Mother Nature has to say to them.
You and I need nature too. Sometimes you and I need a conversation with Mother Nature. We need to get out somewhere where things are quiet and we can hear Her speak to us. And a motorcycle is one great way to find your way out into the arms of your mother, Mother Nature. Stay tuned.
It was a few years ago. I got that dreaded phone call. You may know the one. When they let you know that you’re losing your job. Total shock. I didn’t see it coming. Not even a hint. They explained that it was not my fault. Just Corporate American resource adjustments. Ug… ok.
That evening, I went outside, looked up at a sky full of stars. We sometimes think of Mother Nature as just the forest or the wildlife. I see Mother Nature in the stars too. So I asked Her, “I need help. Can You help me find another job?” Then I went to bed.
Fast forward to early summer. I was still out of work so I certainly had time on my hands. My sister and her husband came out here to Colorado from Texas to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Just west of where we live. My wife and I of course knew The Park very well so we took them for a drive up and over the famous Trail Ridge Road. We’ve talked about Trail Ridge on this podcast. What an amazing ride. Over 12,000 feet above sea level. Hard to comprehend the beauty of Mother Nature up there. Breathtaking. Leaves you speechless.
We stopped at a small lake, way up high. This space is called Milner Pass which is also where the Continental Divide crosses through the Park. It’s where the waters that drain East continue to the Atlantic Ocean, and the waters that drain West go to the Pacific.
Pulling into the small parking area there to take pictures, parking at the same time right next to us was this very green Jeep. Like something out of the movie Jurasic Park. It was a highly modified Jeep with a Guide on a headset driving and the back of the Jeep all out in the open with 10 or so people back there. The sign on the side of that Jeep said “Green Jeep Tours, Estes Park, Colorado”.
I don’t know what came over me, but I rushed over to that Guide and asked “Do you like your job?”. I’ll never forget what she did and what she said. She looked right at me, and she said “Are you kidding, it’s the best job in the world. It will change your life!”.
Next thing ya know I’m in Estes Park and I walked into Green Jeep Tours shop. The owner Nikki was there and I said “Hi, I’m Ron. I’m unemployed.” Not the best thing to say when you’re looking for a job, but… I said “I know Rocky Mountain National Park. I know how to drive a Jeep. I love people. Do you need any help?”
Next thing you know, I’m a tour guide in Rocky Mountain National Park. …..
I called my Dad back in Texas and said “Guess what, I’m a tour guide!”. Without missing a beat my dad said “You’ve always been a tour guide!”. Ha ha. He went on to describe how when I was a kid, I would pull my wagon through the woods behind our house and I would describe to my imaginary guests all of the wonderful things all around them. Now all these years later, I’m doing the same thing. My wagon is a Jeep and I have had guests from all over the world there to see my Rocky Mountain National Park.
I learned everything about the Park. The names of the mountains, the animals, the ancient history, the geology, the native peoples such as the Yuke and Arapahoe Indians, even what was said at the opening day celebration for the Park in 1915. I learned 3 hours of dialog. I had to, it’s a 3 hour tour.
I could make my guests laugh and cry in the same tour. That became the goal for a great tour. Pull on their emotions. Overwhelm them with information. Make this a tour of a lifetime. Make them both laugh at my goofy dad jokes and shed a tear thing about the words spoken by those who worked so hard to save this amazing space for us, and our children, and our grandchildren. The more tours I led, the better I got.
On my tour, I would quote from songs from great singers like John Denver and James Taylor. I quoted their songs as poems.
I would take my guests to a spot about mid-mountain where they can see a beautiful mountain range of peaks of 12 and 13 thousand feet. Then I quoted from the song Gaia, the song my James Taylor which means Mother Nature. As my guests would look high upon those snow capped peaks, I would say:
We thought we ought to walk a while,
So we left that town in a single file
Up and up and up, mile after mile after mile.
We reached the treeline and I dropped my pack
I sat down on my haunches and I looked back down over the mountain
Helpless and Speechless and Breathless
Here’s a portion of that song.
As a side note, I contacted James Taylors office to let him know that was quoting from his song, Gaia, on my tour through the Park. Just two days later, I received an email from James’ assistant, Ellen. She said that James would like to see that, can you make a video. I replied yes mam I can. I sent her the video and next thing ya know it ends up on James Taylor’s Instagram account. Sometime later, Ellen gave my wife and I free tickets to see James in concert in Colorado. She suggested getting to our amazing seats early. I found out why. At the beginning of the concert and curtain came down. On that curtain was a video of people singing James’ songs like Fire and Rain and You’ve Got a Friend. Then… there I was. On that huge screen giving a little bit of my Rocky Mountain National Park speech. Wow...
PLAY THE VERSE FROM GAIA
I loved my job as a Tour Guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, but I was exhausted. Losing my voice after the second tour of the day. 3 hours per tour, I told the other guides, I can’t keep this up. The same guide that I met at Milner Pass, the one who said “it will change your life”, was very experienced. She said “Ron you talk too much. Give them time, to take it all in. Help them learn to just be present and most importantly, show them how to just be and to just listen.”
So I did. I stopped talking so much. And that’s when the magic happened. They had time to take in who Mother Nature is. And Mother Nature began to talk to them now that I was quiet.
Man from Chicago. Elk Meadow. Feel the presence of God here. All created for you and me to be here together right now.
I had to learn to be quiet. To know when to stop talking. Because that’s when Mother Nature can speak to you. I have since led hundreds of tours in Rocky Mountain National Park with thousands of people out to see and hear Mother Nature speak to them. She speaks to me too. All the time. Becoming a tour guide and learning to be quiet changed my life.
I still work part time for Green Jeep Tours, usually on Saturdays in the summer, but I think back on that day at the Continental Divide when I first asked the Green Jeep tour guide “Do you like your job?” and she said “Are you kidding? It;s the best job in the world, It will change your life”.
I think back too, about the day that I got the dreaded phone call, telling me that I had lost my job. I think about how I went out under the stars that night and I asked Mother Nature “Can you help me find another job?”.
Maybe, just maybe, if I had just stopped and listened, I would have heard Mother Nature say “Are you kidding? I am about to change your life!” And She did.
You see, that rancher in Nebraska already knew that. Those kids from New York needed a conversation with the beautiful lady whom they had never met before. To hear from our Mother Nature. They found her by riding horses and riding motorcycles out into the open spaces. A transport for helping them, and for helping you and me to reach a quiet place for a quiet time with our Mother Nature. That rancher cared for those he didn’t know, in the same way that I too care for whomever listens to this podcast. It’s chasing that elusive Peace of Mind, well that’s what this podcast is all about. Simple as that.
I hope that you too can take your motorcycle out to a place like the plains of Nebraska or into the mountains of Colorado, wherever your quiet place is. A place where you can be helpless and speechless and breathless. Where you can speak with your mother, Mother Nature, and clearly hear her reply.
Thank you for listening. I wish you peace. I wish you love.
Music by Geoff Harvey and Bretty Wilson