Written Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
To say that yesterday was my day of rest and little excitement would be a major understatement. To say that I am extremely blessed in every aspect of my life would be an accurate description, but slightly understated, as well.
Let me go back to the night before I departed on my cross country adventure to explain Cooper. As a fluke, I met John Cooper, also known as “Coop” or “Cooper,” at a block party hosted by one of my lacrosse teammates on the eve of my departure. I showed up to the party around 9pm, nine hours after it began. As you can imagine, people attending and hosting a party that had been going for nine hours would be pretty well intoxicated at this time. Between introductions, urban bocce ball, and my friend Shanna (“shane-a”) introducing me as her ‘single’ friend, she remembered that Cooper was also headed East sometime this coming week. At this, Cooper explained to me how his former college roommate was in a band called Rebelution and they were going to be playing in Missoula on Tuesday, August 13th.
At first I thought this was unfortunate because I was set on sticking to my scheduled route and dates for travel. Then I remembered: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
Once I got to Missoula, I knew I’d need a break day just to decompress from my horrendous journey on Monday. So, I thought, ‘why not?’ I might as well live in the moment and experience life while I’m still a civilian. It was also convenient that I saw Rebelution a few months back in Portland when my friend Tom bought me a ticket and insisted I go – it was a great show.
I started my day yesterday by cleaning up my bike. I had bugs, grease, and gasoline all over it and my host graciously offered me a bucket, rags, and soap to use. Then, I headed into Missoula to find a Starbucks with Wifi so I could do homework and complete my blog post. After a few hours at Starbucks, I thought I’d pick up some necessities and head over to the concert venue. Google had informed me that the concert would be at Big Sky Brewing, the makers of Moose Drool, and Matisyahu would be opening for Rebelution. I got to the brewery at 7pm and Cooper called shortly after with VIP stickers (instead of lanyards) and wristbands for entry.
As we checked in, the security would not let me go into the regular venue with my backpack that had all my riding gear in, so we asked if we could store it on the tour bus. The security guy obliged and walked us over to the bus. On the bus, Cooper found his friend and reacquainted himself with all the roadies and other band mates. This tour bus was the biggest RV you’ve ever seen, with all the plush amenities you can think of.
Walking around the VIP area was pretty cool because we got to rub elbows with all the roadies and talk to them about their adventures so far. As Matisyahu took the stage, the sun began to set and there were enough clouds that the fading light painted the most beautiful pinks and purples in the sky. Also, the amazing view of the mountains made the scene even more gorgeous.
Having an all access pass made it possible for us to go onto the backside of the stage and watch the band as if we were attending their practice, but with a crowd, light show, and amazing sunset added.
As I was walking around between sets, I saw a particularly cheerful gentleman and decided to comment on how happy he looked. He said he was so happy because this was the best line up the brewery had had ever. I asked him if he worked there, and he did. I mentioned that I’d only heard of the brewery because of Moose Drool, and he modestly said, “I started brewing that in my basement.” Turns out, this cheerful gentleman was the brewery owner and had just dropped off several cases of beer into the tour bus.
Within the next hour, Rebelution got on stage, and most of us were hanging out by the beer tent when the owner and his teenage son stopped by to hook us all up with free beer. Needless to say, I quickly broke my “no beer” rule for this very special occasion and indulged in the moment.
Standing on stage as the band played, dancing to their music while drinking free beer, and seeing an epic sunset… I can’t complain. After the show, one of the guys I arrive with approached Matisyahu as we walked off the stage. I am not one to get star struck, in fact, I typically prefer leaving higher profile people alone because I would hate random people constantly approaching – so I stood off to the side for a bit. Then, the guy I had been walking with told Matisyahu that I was riding my motorcycle across the country, so I introduced myself. At this, Matisyahu perked up. He told me he had done a similar trip when he was younger and would love to do it again someday. We talked about my plans, my bike, and my experience level. Then he showed me his cafe-racer-looking bike that was sitting in the back of a travel trailer hitched on the back of his tour bus. He explained that he loves getting out and just riding when he gets free time on tour. By this time, I already knew my life was amazing, but I was humbled for the hundredth time on this adventure at how blessed I am. People in our world are famous, or infamous, nobodies or heroes, yet most tend to go out of their way to maintain normal human interactions, no matter how mundane or extraordinary their day to days lives.
To top off the night, the Big Sky Brewery owner gave us a free brewery tour after the show and handed me some labels for an upcoming beer that hadn’t even been bottled yet. I was asked not to say much, but the beer is a special edition that will never be for sale. Instead, it is sent overseas to our troops as a thank you for their service. He thought it was appropriate to give me a couple of the labels, which hadn’t even been opened yet, since I am in the Army now.
At the end of the tour, the owner was kind enough to tell me I was welcome back any time and that him and his wife always have a spare room, just in case.
That was pretty much the end of Tuesday night.
Wednesday went pretty smoothly. I left my host’s house near Missoula and headed East toward Billings.
I crossed the continental divide and at least three other small mountain ranges in around 350 miles. I stopped for lunch and gas in a small town called Anaconda, Montana that had an enormous smokestack that I had been staring out for miles. The rest of the ride was very uneventful, easy going, good weather, and the only wildlife I saw were cows, horses, and farmers.
For the night, I am in Billings and plan on leaving first thing in the morning, riding toward North Dakota.