Impervious to everything but man, the sequoia tree is a living testament to how short even a full human life can be. As we walked through a forest of trees that were hundreds of years old when Jesus walked the earth I couldn’t help but think what I could accomplish in 2000+ years of life. Perhaps the burden of that long of life is too much for humans to handle and instead we are relegated to a century or less. With a relatively short time in this world we are expected to learn, work, retire, and leave. To cope with what seems like a fairly monotonous existence we often find ourselves exploring hobbies and interests to add color to our black and white world.

After resupplying at a gas and food mart in Squaw Valley, CA, Nate put the car in gear and we prepared to set off west to Big Sur. Before making it 30 yards a nearby man dropping off his recycling waved us down to let us know Shane had left his backpack on the ground where we had previously parked. With a stroke of luck Shane jumped out and grabbed the bag filled with a laptop, a tablet, and other various electronics thanking the man in the process.

As we pulled away Shane decided that we had to recognize the man’s good deed. Nate whipped the car around and just as the man was pulling away Shane ran down his van and caught his attention. After briefly explaining what we were doing with Project Wildness Shane handed the man some stickers and a reward for his keen eye and willingness to help a stranger. The man was stunned as he assembled the words, “Are you sure?” Shane replied without hesitation, “Absolutely.”

He reached out his hand and introduced himself as Richard. “Were you guys up there?” he asked gesturing to the mountains we slept in the previous evening. Shane replied, “Yeah we camped there last night.” Before Shane could even finish his sentence Richard anxiously asked, “Did you see Sasquatch?” It was the last thing any of us expected to hear and half laughing at what he thought was a joke Shane commented, “He smells like Sasquatch,” while gesturing to Nate. Richard didn’t as much as flinch at Shane’s humor and again said, “No but did you see him? He’s up there.”

In this short life we all need to add a little color in the form of hobbies. Richard chose a shade that surely doesn’t suit everyone, but after listening to him describe his passion for what felt like a lifetime it is safe to say Richard’s life has no lack of color. We didn’t find Bigfoot in the foothills near the mighty sequoias, but we were startled awake by a strange sound none of us had ever heard. Richard seemed convinced it was his elusive, bolder-tossing Sasquatch. Others would argue it was probably a local breed of fox. In the end we may never know if Bigfoot was in those hills, but we did meet an incredible man who saved us from a major setback in our trip with one simple, kind act.

Add some color to your life. ‪#‎ProjectWildness‬

To Patricia B… What seems like a lifetime ago you were my professor for a capstone course at UMD. When I had a hard time finding an internship you recognized my ability and gave me a shot. In your honor we recognized a man who did something that others might not have noticed or done. Thank you for all your inspiration and help you have provided me through the years. I truly appreciate everything you have done.

To Dave and Kathy M… Both of you have been huge supporters of Project Wildness from day one and Nate and I can’t thank you enough for your that! Without hesitation you give yourselves to your family, friends, and community with no thoughts or desires to be recognized. Richard graced my life for the briefest of moments with the exact same nature and because of you we were able to show him the appreciation he deserves.

To Heidi M… When Amber owned her dance studio I always feared the end of May because I knew I’d be spending my weekend helping out at her recital. I’m sure it was obvious that I didn’t enjoy being there, but somehow you showed up every year with a smile on your face ready to help out your friend. When my dad was sick you made regular visits to support our family and visit Gary and when Nate and I started Project Wildness once again you were there with your full support. Thank you so much for being a huge part of our family and lives.

To Sean and Hillery M… Your random act of kindness helped us out a great deal. Fittingly, we were able to use your donation to recognize a deserving man who also helped us out. You stepped out of your way to help out a couple of guys push forward on a journey to see the country and meet good people along the way. We met one of those people in Richard, and we thank you so much for that opportunity!