A former colleague, Matt Wigle, sent the following email yesterday, recounting one such experience. Reprinted with permission.
Scott and Sarah,
I received Scott’s email today informing me he was leaving Air Liquide. It included a link to this website, which I will check at least on a monthly basis. This evening I recalled a childhood memory that I have to share with you.
I grew up in Idaho … it’s kind of like Colorado, but better (that’s a little Idaho humor, in case you didn’t recognize it). As a youngster my grandparents would take me and my younger brother Chris camping for long weekends in various State and Federal campgrounds in the mountains of Idaho. I was probably 7 or 8 and Chris was 6 or 7. It must have been a Saturday, since we had been there all day. My grandparents had a tiny little trailer, just big enough for the four of us. It had a tiny kitchen, complete with a tiny little stove top and oven. It started to rain in the early afternoon and it continued to rain into the evening.
In the late afternoon, a young guy (he seemed old to me at the time, but I’m sure he wasn’t more than 25) set up camp next to our campsite. I remember my Grandpa helping him set up this tent in the rain. Then, he invited him into the trailer. He was on a cross country bicycle trip. My Grandpa was a Jr. High Principal and my Grandma (Nana) was a teacher. They were both adventurers in their own right, traveling the world whenever they got a chance. Needless to say, they were taken by the young bicycler.
I remember spending several hours with this new member of our family. We played all sorts of card games and board games and did a lot of talking. My grandparents, probably recognizing that the kid hadn’t had a good meal in weeks, ask he would like to eat. I don’t remember his answer, but he, Grandpa and me left Nana and Chris behind and drove to the nearest store. It was a very small place, probably at least 1/2 hour away. He picked up some bisquick, and canned peaches and I don’t know what else.
When we got back to the trailer, Nana had dinner ready. After dinner, the new family member went to work making his version of peach cobbler. I remember liking it very much … especially with the ice cream that always came after dinner with Nana and Grandpa.
The next morning, my newest brother (I have 5 brothers, Chris is only one of them) was packing up camp and getting ready for the next day’s travel. I helped him pack up. He was easy to talk to … remember, I was only 7 or 8. I remember asking him how he knew how to make desert the night before. He smiled and told me he had a craving and just made it up … he hadn’t ever made it before. I don’t know why I remember this, but I do.
I didn’t stay in touch with this guy, but I know my Grandparent did. Every once in a while throughout the years they would mention to Chris and me that they received a letter from him and tell us how he was doing.
When I received Scott’s email this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think what a great live-long adventure this will be for the two of you. There is no question that this will be the case. The point of this note is to make sure that you understand the impact your journey will have on other people. A chance meeting with a young guy crossing the country on bicycle is one of the most clear and fond memories I have of my childhood. It happened over 40 years ago. I can only imagine the number of lives you will touch as you make your way through the Americas.