Monday, May 27, 2013

WE MADE IT!!! hinted in the picture previously posted of Kenton and I at the San Diego Temple we....MADE IT!!!

After 25 days, 650+ miles, $6,000 in donations, 5 pairs of sunglasses (yes, it ended up being five...), poison oak, ticks, many roads, three sets of bearings, three sets of shoes, and so many wonderful people we met...the trip is done and over, and those kids are getting their tutor!!!

I have to say that after the very first day, , I wasn't sure this could be done. To be honest I didn't even know if I still wanted to do it. When we slowed down our pace in order to survive, I thought Los Angeles would be the furthest we get. Thankfully, we acclimated to the strains of the trip, we got stronger, and we got faster, and we remembered why we were doing this crazy thing. We had four days where family or friends took our pack and we were able to go twice as fast. With all of this, miraculously, we  made it!

I don't know what I'm happier about. That we made it without getting hit by a car, or that I didn't get any ticks.

Well the trip ended and Kenton and I took our first real moments to relax. One thing we had made a habit of on the trip was to take pictures by signs with city names on them. Our dream was to take one by the San Diego sign. We rode and rode and rode, but there is no sign on the coastal highway. My mom and little sister came to pick us up and they said they had seen one on the freeway, but Kenton and I weren't allowed there. Eventually one was located in the city, and we got our picture.

We then took some time to relax on the beach and chill in the pool. The next day Mom took us all to Disneyland!!! That was a really fun ending to the trip, what a magical place it is.

I'm happy we did this trip. We've learned a lot. We learned life lessons, learned our limits, learned things we will do the same and some that we will do differently for next time. The trip was really hard, but totally worth it. We got to help out a lot of people, inspire others, be inspired by others, and just be part of a great adventure. 

Thank you all for your support, and don't worry, its not totally over yet. Stay tuned for more posts and a video from the trip too, and next summer well...who knows?
When we finished we wanted to go to the beach...where we collapsed and fell asleep, and
dreamed of more adventures! We look like we just washed up to shore.

We luckily had enough energy to get up and enjoy the waves. That is me, Kenton and Sydney out there.

Mom made sure we were well fed. See the look of pure joy on Kenton's face
as he carries out a pizza that was almost too big to fit in the car!

Me happy as can be at the happiest place on Earth!!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Words and Thoughts for the Sabbath

From Kenton:
Mason folding up his tent

Well my friends the 2013 longboarding trip has concluded. Being on the road, meeting so many wonderful people of California, and seeing the outpouring kindness from so many of you has made this trip a life changing experience for me. I want to thank all who have helped feed, shelter, pray for, and motivate me on this trip. Thank you! And thank you to all of you who have donated to bless the lives of the Romanian children. You have made a difference in their future, thank you!

One of the major things that I have come to learn from this trip is how much I rely on my home to get things done. For instance having a consistent bed, food, family, and protection relieves the stress of everyday living. Having to focus on my belongings and the protection of my body on the highway absorbs the focus of most of my attention when I would rather put my efforts toward a higher level, such as education.
The road to San Diego

I have found the importance of keeping myself close to God. Mason has done a good job of remembering to start the morning with prayer. I find that I usually begin longboarding by asking Heavenly Father for protection and guidance on the day of journey. It’s not uncommon to see Mason and I standing on the side of the road with our helmets removed, eyes closed in prayer to God. I believe that we have been safe from major harm thanks to the goodness of God; Mason commented that he "Felt that God has guided us to the places we need to be and that he has a plan for us for the rest of the trip." Honestly when I think of riding our boards for 650 miles, I am amazed that we have been so well protected. Since the trip has ended, I have heard how many of you have prayed for Mason and my safety. Thank you for praying for us, your prayers have kept us safe.
Still riding even though I fell Day #1

The first day of this trip, the trucks on my boards were loose and gave me a good turning radius. However, going down a puny hill the board started to wobble and I went down. I landed on my right shoulder ripping the sleeve and roughing up my left leg. It could have been a lot worse but I was still jittery and very gun shy the rust of the day, and for the several days following.

I tightened my trucks on my board and I have been able to ride much more confidently. The tightening allows me to not wobble and ride down much steeper terrain with my heavy backpack. At the end of the first day, with my 100% crash per day record, I dreamed I was hitting the road over and over again. Each time I hit I would jolt awake. I didn't feel very rested, but I awoke with inspiration to travel at a speed I felt safe. I could carry my board down whatever hill I wanted too. Mason told me that I could walk down any hill and he wouldn't judge me. Thanks Mason!

A speaker I heard in church quoted the Savior in the New Testament from Matthew 25:40. Jesus said that "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." As I think about this scripture I am filled with gratitude for the kind people who have given for the Romanian children.

I have seen strangers give money for the Romanian children; ask after our safety, offer direction, food, and their homes for us to stay. The giving of these people affects more than just Mason and I, their efforts bless the lives of the Romanian children and in the process they give back to God. With the conclusion of the trip I hope you will continue to give to your families, to strangers, and to God.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Guess Where We Are Today?

Riding past a monument significant to me. Can anyone guess where we are? More to come later

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mai Multe Fotografii!

Happy as can be to have made it into the newspaper. Front page of the local news section!

We visited the S-1 Helmet warehouse in LA. S-1 made the helmets that keep our noggins
safe. A company that is truly concerned with helmet safety and making sure that
everying is well certified. They were really nice and loved hearing that Kenton
wears his helmet for a pillow when he sleeps.

On the left is Uncle Dale (Kenton's Dad) who joined us for a leg of the journey. Fun fact. He is riding
on the very board that got Kenton and I interested in longboarding, and look where it has got us now.

Past few days have been along beachside paths. California really is a beautiful place.

Made it to Dana Point and stopped for a photo

Kenton's family came for the weekend and stayed a few days to help us out. It was great
to see the family. They were such good sports with the two little kids. It was lots of fun to
have a fan club cheer us on every so often when we passed them on the beach. Love the
Durfee family.

We were hoping the sign would be bigger but this is the only one we found. One of our favorite
days of riding.

Stopped here for a break and to check the maps. We figured
 that my shirt functioned as a better lightbouse than this one
ever would.

Sha-zam! Newport, another beautiful city.

Four Broken Sunglasses

The demise of set number three.
I look so depressed because I know
I will have to spend way too much money
to buy another pair, that will probably break.
It's all for the children...

The sun is hot but the road is beautiful!

We met with another paper this morning and then headed down the road. Both of us have been amazed and happy not to have been sunburned for this entire trip, but today...we are fried.

As shown by the picture on the right I broke another pair of sunglasses. That is pair number three. All I did was pull them off my face and they snapped without any reason. Kenton and I have decided I was just too handsome and the glasses couldn't handle it. It makes me laugh because I remember talking about a documentary called Five Broken Cameras earlier on the blog, and it seems I am destined to do what that man did, just with my glasses. I've broken three and Kenton broke one (I say he "broke" them, more like they got so gross and dirty that when he put them on his face they left little racoon-like dirt circles around his eyes.)

Despite my glasses we have been in high spirits today. Due to our recent press coverage we've been getting a lot more attention. Early this morning we were stopped by a couple on a walk. They wanted to shake our hands cause they saw us in the paper. Other people have been honking and cheering as they pass us in their cars. At first we thought everyone was just mad at us today but they have been smiling and giving thumbs up signs so we think its all good. Some people have even pulled over on the side of the road to talk to us. It has been great to raise awareness and get attention to the cause.

On the road with my new glassses! Set number four.
Lets hope they last!

We passed into Dana Point and the sun was getting high and very hot (hence the sunburns) and I decided it was time to buy more sunglasses. Spotting a watersport store we pushed on over to see what they had. Right before we entered a tall nice looking man came outside and started asking us about our boards and sticks. We explained our cause and the equiptment and really sold him on the Kahuna Big Stick. He likes to paddleboard surfboard and thought the land version looked like a blast.

Near the end of our coversation I started heading in the store to buy sunglasses. Martin (the guy we were talking to, whose father happened to be Romanian) ran over to his car, and grabbed a pair of glasses and gave them to me. Just put them on my face and said I could keep them! Now he has to go buy new glasses, but he saved me $20 from his act of kindness. I really appreciate it, and my eyes have been appreciative all this hot and sunny day.

I'm just a kid on the side of the road and someone, Martin, gives. That is what has really impressed me on this trip. I've learned that people are good, they want to give, we all desire to help. It's not just Kenton and I on our crazy adventure who are making a difference. Its each person who encouraged us, who made a donation, who opened up their home, who gave water, who gave sunglasses. There are so many little acts of kindness that add up to this great effort helping these kids that most of you will never meet. It is amazing and reminds me of a quote I love from George Eliot.

"What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?"

A Thank You To All of You

Kenton at Huntington Beach
Another wonderful day. This day began at Long Beach. We met with reporters at the Orange County Register. We answered some questions and they snapped a lot of pictures. We rode down to the Huntington Beach Pier and they grabbed more pictures. If you live in the area you should look for the story on May 22, 2013 in the Orange County Register. Or you can check it out here.

On the 22nd we have another interview. We were also featured in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and another local paper. The publicity is good and people are finding out about the trip. We've had over 11,000 hits to the blog and over 4,000 this month alone. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful journey and helping to raise awareness about the children of Romania and how we can help them. Another great milestone we've reached is our donations. We have basically reached the necessary $6,000 dollars to hire the tutor for a year. That is amazing. What about we try to reach $12,000 dollars now?

 All of this would be just a crazy adventure without the help from all of you. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Who Can Measure the Impact - by Curtis Bennett

I think it's impossible to calculate the impact a single, simple act of service will ultimately have.  We hear about the ripple effect when a stone is thrown into the water.  But if one is patient enough, it doesn't take too long for those ripples to softly dissipate and fade away. Somehow I don't think that's quite the case when people, motivated by higher purposes, like faith and love, perform spontaneous or even planned acts of service.  I believe it's quite possible, if not likely, the ripple effect will be seen and felt for generations to come if not forever.

I've had the privilege of spending the last three days with Mason Bennett (my son) and Kenton Durfee (my favorite nephew).  Two great young men, on a planned excursion, serving people on the other side of the globe. I have been impressed with their effort and sacrifice and I've been able to see (to some degree) the toll a 600+ mile trip on a skateboard, ladened with 50 pound backpacks plays on the body and the mind.  This is not an easy task, and they have chosen a difficult way to create awareness.  Yet they have raised their first $6000, enough to hire a teacher for a year in Romania.

Consider these two quotes;

 "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation."
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA

Kenton, the Honorable General Consul Eugen Chivu, Mason
Today together with Mason and Kenton we visited the Honorable Eugen Chivu, Consulate General of Romania to the United States.  We had the opportunity to share with this high ranking State Official the purpose, motivation, idea and impact of two American returned missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the orphan children of his beautiful country. It was clear, wholly evident, that he was impressed and grateful.  He expressed time and again his appreciation and shared his perspective of a growing and strengthening relationship between the United Staes and Romania.  Though from his perspective, it typically has to do with economies, armed forces, official state agreements.  He stated that often we don't know how much is being done in areas he is completely unfamiliar with that perpetuate the objectives both countries have in developing lasting relationships.  I suggest, and I think some if not most would agree, these type of quiet, unknown and seemingly obscure efforts are doing more than any corp of diplomats could accomplish.  Again, because it is motivated by the higher purposes of love and faith.

I think sometime, somewhere, we will have the opportunity of seeing in a more perfect way, the "true" impact our simple, insignificant, love filled and faith driven acts of service will have on a person, on a community, on the world and into the eternities.  That should be fun!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Keep Moving

This Saturday I also had another insight, or life lesson, while riding. When I am riding I am just so happy. However, once we stop and sit down or something I don't want to start riding again. In the morning I dread starting on the road, but once I've started, I love it! Also I hate being in once place too long, which is usually few hours. One time we got stuck in a city for two days! Kenton had a school emergency and other obstacles made us stuck until we resolved everything. I got so antsy and frustrated. I really didn't like being stuck there when we needed to be moving on the road.

The moral of all this is that it is better to be moving, to be doing something, than to just sit and stagnate. I know that it is good to take a break, refresh, slow down and enjoy things, but once that is done we need not linger and waste away. We need to get moving and accomplish something. I find I'm happier when doing that. (on a side note: it is good to be moving, but there is a difference between being productive, and just being busy)

Its A Beautiful Day, Don't Let It Get Away

May 18, 2013
What a marvelous day! Truly a glorious day. My father has been in California for work and this morning he met up with us. He took our packs in his car and left Kenton and I with some water and let us take off down the road.

We started in Oxnard and traveled forty miles to Venice Beach. We FLEW down the highway. The conditions today were ideal. A slight downgrade. Smooth roads. Gorgeous scenery. We were right on the beach almost all day. It was quite the change from the windy, jarring, gravely roads that started the week off.  It was perfect.

I had a realization on the road. When I first planned this trip I wanted to go from San Diego and travel north. Someone convinced me I should travel north to south instead. I am grateful they did. The reason is that if we were headed north we would be on the east side of the road and the ocean is on the west side. The view would not be as good. Instead we are on the west side of the road right up next to the water, and the view is spectacular.

The ocean just looked so beautiful! All day!
So my board was run over by a car today. Kenton and I stopped for a break and I put my board down by the road. We walked over to look at the water. After a few minutes we hear a loud popping noise. I turn to see a lady has just run over my board. She goes over it, the board pops up, flips through the air a few times, and crashes down about five feet away. My worst fear has come to be. My board has been run over. I sprint to the spot praying that it is still intact but expecting the worst. It is a piece of wood after all. The victor in maple wood vs. a car is no question.

I run over and pick up the pieces...but wait...not piece. One board? Still good? Inconceivable! I inspect it, stand on it, and nothing seems wrong. The Kahuna board and Bear trucks are intact and perfect! I even went and rode twenty more miles on it before the day was through. Amazing! AMAZING!!!

Workin the short shorts today
Today made me really happy because we really moved and we moved far. Although we did take time to enjoy the journey. We saw a whale! We took a lot of pictures. We rode along beautiful beaches, and met some wonderful people. We were touched by the generosity of the people we met. When dad took us to lunch (which was way better than our daily diet of granola and beans) he mentioned what we were doing to the people sitting at a nearby table. They gave us a very generous donation and lots of good advice for upcoming roads. At a later meal we mentioned our cause to the waiters at our table and they donated too. I've never had a waiter give me money! When we arrived at Venice Beach we took a moment to walk around and see stuff. I went to look at the skateboard shops and we told them about the trip. They were really nice to us too. I'm just so impressed by the kindness of other people.

What a beautiful wonderful day.

Our day's goal was Malibu. Without our packs we got there
by 11:00 am....and we kept going!!!

Kenton at the entrance to Los Angeles area

At Venice Beach with my Dad.
You can see the new scratches on my board.

First Impressions

Excuse me're under arrest!
California has all sorts of people. We have had the chance to meet many of them on the road. Meeting others has been my favorite part of the trip. A few days ago Kenton and I arrived in Oxnard and we were excited to unfold another chapter of the adventure.

Once in the city we sat down on a bench by a large bus station. We pulled out the maps and tried to reorient ourselves. A large man about our age came to talk to us and offered us some illicit substances. We declined and he went away. Later he sat down about 10 feet from us and was met with two boys about the age of 15. The man pulled a small plastic bag out of his sock, and let the boys sniff it.  The boys smiled. Money and plastic bag exchanged hands and the boys ran off. Kenton and I just sat there wondering what to do. We had just witness a not-very-discreet drug deal go down. What do we do? Call the cops? Inform the  security guard who just watched the whole thing? Tackle the man to the ground and make a citizens arrest?

We continued on our way and met some other colorful figures along the road. The area of town we reached was not very nice nor did I feel safe there. I began thinking about how odd Kenton and I look. I love wearing our yellow shirts because cars can see us, but sometimes I feel like they make us stand out as targets in scary areas of town. I started getting nervous.

I usually don't like being in the city. I prefer the open country road riding. My first impressions of Oxnard were not good. I felt uncomfortable, and I wanted to get out.

This first impression of danger and drugs, thankfully, proved to be false.

Kenton and I planned our Oxnard day poorly and by 4:00 pm we were smack in the middle of city, 17 miles from a place to camp. This left us with not enough time to get out of the city and find a campsite for the night. We started looking at hotels. We found a Holiday Inn and went to ask the best rate. While waiting in line we talked to the people standing behind us about our trip. The hotel was pricey and gave no deal to us so we left to look for something else (we didn't need anything amazing. We sleep on the ground everyday. Just something better than a tent).

While standing outside the hotel and trying to think of other options the people who were behind us in line came and talked to us. They live down south a ways and offered to let us stay at their home Sunday night if we don't have a place to stay. Ok awesome and giving is that? These two people, who just met two sweaty guys with backpacks and boards, who didn't even know our names, offered to let us stay in their home. What amazing charity. Kenton and I were really touched. We got their number and might have a place to stay Sunday.

Kenton's family came to visit. They took us to dinner
and the waitress made a donation! Oxnard really
is a nice place.
Soon we got a hotel figured out, and on our way down I heard someone from a nearby car yelling to me. They asked what the sign on my backpack read. I gave them a pamphlet for our trip and they tossed me ten dollars. The light turned green and they drove off. Again we were so touched at the giving nature of these strangers.

Oxnard is starting to look like a happy place after all. and its the people that make it so. It reminded me of living in Romania. I lived in Bucharest for a year, and part of that time I was in Sector Five, right next to an area of town called Rahova, a scary dangerous part of the city. We couldn't get many of the locals to go there with us because it made them so scared. Scared of the people in Rahova, scared of being mugged or stabbed, things like that. Being new to the city I was scared as well. Over time though I met some of my best friends in Rahova, and they made it a joy to visit instead of a scary experience.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tell Me...Do You Think I Have A Plethora Of Pictures?

Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way

The Hesselbeins who we got to stay with. Wonderful and very kind people. Probably the coolest place we
will stay for the whole trip with on of the best breakfasts (really...steak for breakfast!). Thank you very much.

Longboarding along and a man stops us asking us to help him pick up his horse. Confused we go to help.
Turns out he is a sculptor and is transporting these wooden horses. Kenton felt glad to help.

Stopped at a laundromat to wash our clothing...

....and Kenton did some homework using a WiFi connection, a brown paper bag, and his phone.
Elephant Seals all over the beach. They smell terrible.

Realizing all I have left to eat are bananas and tortillas. A terrible and shocking moment. 

Camping out for the night. Someone was nice enough to let us stay on their land. Thank you!

The daily sunscreen ritual. Sometimes Kenton doesn't tell me when I put too much on and I go all day
looking like a ghost with sunscreen smears all over my face. And I wonder why people look at me funny.
Our neighbors for the evening. 

Modeling our campsite. These places really seen to be prepared for us.

On the road. 

Ghost Week.

A Ghost in the picture!!!
The trip has been going well. One problem we have run into is that Highway One turns will randomly turn into a freeway for a mile or so and then back to a highway. In an effort to stay off the freeway (we already got kicked off once) we have been taking lots of back roads and smaller highways. It does lead to some meandering but we've also seen a lot of cool stuff that way.

A Ghost town store closed down from
a few days ago
We decided to name this week "Ghost Week" due to all the ghost towns we've passed through. It has been a little creepy to tell the truth. We ride into a town and all the stores are closed, everything is dusty and quiet. The worst was when we wanted to fill up our water and the only grocery store in the only town we passed through was closed, along with everything else. Luckily a nice man let us fill up from his garden hose. Last night Kenton took a picture of the sunset and we even saw a ghost! See that little green wisp thing. A GHOST!!!!

Well Jamie came for my birthday (best gift ever). I want to say thank you to everyone who donated and made my birthday awesome.  Tuesday morning Jamie left, much to my dismay and protestation. It was nice to see her and her dad. They really lifted our spirits as well as brought much needed supplies. Like new wheels, more food, and Kahuna stick blades. As you can see in the picture, it was very much needed.

After months of riding and hundreds of miles it is
time to retire the grip for the Kahuna stick and
put in a new one (right). The old one
(left) lasted a long long time and took lots of abuse.
We are super impressed with it all. 
The past few days we have been in ghost towns and the wilderness. We smell really bad. Today was the first day we reached a large town and we took the chance to go to a library so Kenton could do homework. It wasn't until I saw someone my own age that I realized just how bad I smell and how badly I need a shower. I won't tell you how many days it has been, but it has been that...DAYS!!! (Jamie might make me take that off the blog later).

We have had some amazing roads, huge hills to push up and some exciting hills to ride down. During a break, after a particularly steep hill we had to push up, I started talking to Kenton. "If we weren't doing this for a cause, to help other people, but instead for the adventure's sake, do you think we would have made it this far?" I asked. "No," he said, "we probably would have given up, rented a car, and driven to all the beautiful views and fun hills to ride instead." Its true. What really helps us to keep going is knowing the good that is being done because of it.

Dennis Wheeler took us to dinner for my birthday
We talked to a man about the trip a few days ago and he said, "God bless you. It is so refreshing to meet good people like you two. It just inspires me." A little bashfully Kenton and I discussed the encounter later. We don't feel like we're doing something that great or that we are the best of people (we actually wonder if we're insane from time to time). We feel like we're doing just something fun to help other people. What really inspires us is hearing about people giving. We think, "People are actually donating to help! That is wonderful!". When we hear that people give, or when we stay in someones home, or all of the wonderful miracles helping this project and other people doing so much we are inspired by the good in others and the love that is being spread from one person to another.

People are awesome, and we have such capacity for good.