Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mountain Bike Musings: Our One Escape Before Death

My buddies and I at our High School Graduation
When I was in High School my buddies and I had a "secret club". Every Friday our club would meet in this wooded area. There we would talk about our lives, catch up, tell jokes, read poems, build forts, and whatever else we felt like doing. Girls were not allowed because, while being great, they created drama, and this was our little moment to escape from it all.

In our secret special spot we had pounded a stick into the ground and called it, very ingeniously, The Stick. When we needed to have emergency meetings we would simply tell one another to "Meet me at the Stick" and we all knew where to go. It was our secret spot. At times it felt almost sacred to me because of the brotherly feelings and friendship we developed in that place. I would often visit The Stick alone to think because if felt so good to be there. Now, six years later, I still visit. The Stick is gone, the brush is overgrown but it still feels good to sit. For my group of friends it was a sanctuary of sorts.

I have my own special place like that. My personal private secret special spot. By my house is a mountain trail, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, on which I love to mountain bike. If you bike along the trail you reach an incline. Travel up the hill and you will reach some radio towers way up high. Before you reach the towers there is a path that goes right, up a small hill, down a bit, and you find some rocks overlooking the whole valley.

At the end of a mountain bike ride. On this particular day
there was a terrible thunder and lightning storm. The pathway
became muddy and my wheels sank all the way down and would
not spin. I had to pick up my bike and carry it up the mountain
through the rain to reach my spot. But reach it I did. 
It is a gorgeous place. That is where I most loved to sit and think. I would take all my biggest questions and thoughts there, and as consequence, on those rocks I decided a lot of things about who I want to be and what I really believe. My hilltop perch was so good for me because it was secluded from the world, but I could still observe the world from a high vantage point. The trip was long. From my house on bike to a trail that wound around the grassy fields to the hill that goes up and up. There have been times I haven't been able to make it to my spot, due to a grasshopper infestation or a snowstorm when I tried to snowshoe up. I felt really frustrated by these attempts and in a silly way it felt almost as though I had to pay the physical price to reach my spot where I would be given the answer to the questions I had. I had to make the journey to get my answer.

I feel like everyone needs a sacred secret place. Recently I was reading East of Eden and John Steinbeck explains such a place in a conversation between two characters. Adam Trask is walking in the woods with his father Cyrus. Adam shows his father the little stump where he used to hide. Cyrus replies, "I knew about it long ago. Once when you were gone a long time I knew you must have such a place, and I found it because I felt the kind of place you would need. See how the earth is tamped and the little grass is torn? And while you sat in there  you stripped little pieces of bark to shreds. I knew it was the place when I came upon it." Adam, quite astounded, asks why his father never came looking for him there. "No," Cyrus replied, "I wouldn't do that. You can drive a human too far. I wouldn't do that. Always you must leave a man one escape before death. Remember that!"

A picture of the trail. Courtesy of
Now to the whole point of this post. So...a few days ago Jamie and I went biking up the trail to my special spot. I haven't been up there for almost four years. I was shocked and not a little upset to see how much home development has been done up there. In place of my field through which I pondered as I rode are tennis courts and over sized homes. You don't feel like you're really in nature until you're  basically at the base of the hill! I felt like my special place was being invaded. Not only that, but my mind, thoughts,  and ideals were being barged in upon. I didn't like how it felt, like when you have a belligerent acquaintance who loves to challenge your beliefs and feelings and constantly condescendingly tries to convince you you're wrong.

Just as much as we need to have our secret special place, I feel we must have a sanctuary inside. Where we hold what we know and who we are. Where we should be open to learn and think about new things, but also protect from invading "home developers" who destroy the sureness and serenity that comes to one who "knows" themselves.

We need to have a special place within and without.

When I am Full of Silence 
by Jack Perlutsky 

When I am full of silence, 
and no one else is near, 
the voice I keep inside me
 is all I want to hear. 
I settle in my secret place, 
contented and alone,
 and think no other thoughts 
except the thoughts that are my own.

When I am full of silence,
 I do not want to play, 
to run and jump and fuss about, 
the way I do all day. 
The pictures painted in my mind 
are all I need to see 
when I am full of silence… 
when I am truly me

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Much Gratitude

Now that the trip is over and done there are a lot of people I feel the need to thank. This whole endeavor was the effort of many and without everyone it would never have been possible.

First person I would like to thank is Kenton Durfee. Truth be told without Kenton there would be no Longboard For Love. I would not have attempted this trip alone. It would have been too hard, too dangerous, and too scary. I called Kenton over a year ago and asked if he wanted to go on a crazy adventure. I asked Kenton because I knew that he would be excited about the trip, but also that if he said he would come he would follow through with that. I wanted him to come because he is my cousin and very very close friend, and one of the hardest workers I know. This means we would ha
ve a lot of fun and I knew that he could help push me on the hard days.

Kenton, my mom, and I
Kenton sacrificed a lot to come. He was taking classes during the whole trip and
had to take time to submit homework and study (I guess I should thank Kenton's professors too. Thanks for being understanding of a few late assignments). Kenton missed some fun family events too, like when his sister graduated high school as valedictorian or another sister got engaged. I'm grateful he came though and this wouldn't have been possible without him. Thanks Kenton.

Thanks to my parents who supported my crazy idea and helped out so much. For helping me plan, making sure I was safe, getting me out there and back, and helping to raise so many funds for the orphans. I have the best parents in the world.

Jamie and I
Thanks to my wife, THE Jamie Bennett. A big thanks for becoming my friend six years ago and then marrying me recently. But thanks also for help with this project. Jamie took a lot of pictures, helped design the logo, and proofread just about every single blogpost. She allowed me to go on the trip the month before our wedding and supported everything so well.

Thank you to Bridge of Love. Thanks for helping us out by allowing us to help your cause. Thanks for the help with fliers and cards we could hand out on the trip. A big thanks to the Lundbergs for all they've taught me in life.

Thanks to S-1 helmets for getting us a good deal on your helmets. They saved my brain at least once on the trip. I'm happy that there is a company out there that is so concerned with real helmet safety instead of just making a quick buck with a cheap product.

A big thank you to Kahuna Creations. Kenton and I loved your products and every single day told each other how grateful we were for the Big Stick and how difficult the trip would be without it. The boards were amazing. Each day we would get a compliment on the board. Not just how good they were but how beautifully designed it was. High quality performance board and a work of art. Thank you so much Kahuna for the support, for sharing us on your Facebook, help with the equipment. We are nothing but grateful and impressed with you guys.

Thank you to the people who let us stay at your home or found us a place to stay. My parents, and Roz, the Burgons, the Nolls, the Salden family, the Hesselbeins, the Mathis family, the Wheelers, Durfees, everyone. Thank you.

And a big thank you to everyone for supporting us by reading the blog, or donating to help the orphans. This was a huge endeavor made possible by many people. I wonder if the kids in Romania will ever really know how many people gave a little love to help them out. It is amazing.

Thank you.

Picture I took from Facebook of the recent Bridge of Love visit to Romania. Looks like fun.
I hope to go sometime.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mazel Tov To Me!

Well, I've been away from blogging land for a while now. Sorry to just end the trip like that and then stop talking to you all. Apparently the world doesn't like it when you leave it all behind for five weeks on a crazy longboard adventure and then a honeymoon.

Wait...did Mason just say honeymoon? Yes I did. That is my great news I want to talk about. On May 31, 2013 I married THE Jamie Wheeler (now Bennett). Look how cute we are!

We haven't received all our wedding photos yet but I'm sure that I won't be able to keep from bragging about it cause...I'll be so happy.

Out of all the things I've ever done, getting married to Jamie has been the best and the greatest.