During World War I Winston Churchill failed miserably at Gallipoli, but that didn't stop his nation from calling him back to lead the United Kingdom during another war just 20 years later. He promptly failed again when he tried to invade the Nazi held coast of Norway. His public response was his resolve to 'never give up.' Some citizens were skeptical, to say the least.
Walt Disney's first attempt at a cartoon production company failed because it wasn't well funded. He and his partner both took other jobs and tried again when they felt they had enough cash to succeed. Not yet! Although it's cartoons were well received, the new company went bankrupt too. He had to relocate and reorganize again before he found the right mixture of artistic talent and business acumen required for success.
Today we know Babe Ruth as the greatest player ever in baseball. He was abandoned to an orphanage by his parents at the age of seven. After his first year in the major leagues he was sent down to the minors because his team roster was too large to carry the rookie into the next season. When he finally made it back to the majors and into his first World Series - he grounded out on his only at bat!
Thomas Edison was enrolled in school only three months before his teacher labeled him as a daydreamer and 'addled'. He was tossed out of school and the only education he got was from his mother in a home school environment. As a young man he frequently lost jobs because he couldn't maintain his focus on his employers work. He was constantly distracted by his own 'experiments'. These experiments caused fires, spilled acids, and were often a nuisance. At times Edison was a dangerous man to be around.
What's the point, you ask? The point is that success is measured in many ways. Few standards of achievement give credit for persistence, although it's persistence that allows most of us to achieve any measurable success. None of us were able to walk the first time we stood upon our two legs and no worthwhile endeavor in human existence came to fruition on the very first attempt. So, Ride Around America is set aside for now and Roads And Riders takes on a new look. I'll continue to make loops around the nation to document the memorials, and will eventually visit all of the counties. But it won't be in one continuous ride as I hoped would be possible.
After five months and over 19,000 miles on the road I've realized many things.
It would be very easy for me to take a bitter tone over my most recent failure, especially in light of the fact that the underlying reason for the project is a unselfish attempt to honor our veterans of all generations. But, in retrospect, I approached the task all wrong. I focused upon my desire to document at least one veterans memorial in all 3,059 counties of the lower 48 states. I should have focused on documenting my journeys across North America and showcasing what I found along the way.
There are about six million miles of paved roads in the USA. From the shortest to the longest, each of them offers the motorcycle rider a unique adventure. Some highways are the adventure while other highways are simply the way to reach the adventure. And it's the perspective of the rider that makes the road, or what is found along the wayside, the focus of their story.
So, I've got over 19,000 miles of adventure this year and enough notes and photos to write a few chapters of a decent highway guide. I'll spend the next several weeks formatting them into the 'new look' of Roads And Riders and attempting to find commercial sponsorship to keep both the site and my family going. I couldn't find enough people interested in supporting my 'Ride Around America', and while that saddens me greatly, I do have hopes that I'll find support for the broader appeal of an online highway guide.