After waking up in the dense pine forests of southern #Oregon we made a collective realization: we only had 10 days to cover 8 states and nearly 4,000 miles. Our previous adventures in #Colorado and Southern#California took considerable time and now the clock was ticking to cover the northern states. As a result we decided to take Interstate 5 north to Portland to make some progress northward. It hasn’t been in Project Wildness style to rush through beautiful landscapes or pass up small towns full of interesting individuals and opportunities, but plans change and with that we were heading in the fast lane.
As we floated around the soft curves and gentle hills of the western interstate, Nate pulled off at a rest stop for a quick break. Life has a weird habit of constantly putting us in the right place at the right time even if that place was never part of our plan. As Nate guided Julius into one of the only open parking spots we took notice of a man sitting on a plastic bucket with a cardboard sign that read, “Family of 4, recently laid off. The help I get, I will not take avanage off. Any kind of help will be greatly appriciated. Hopefully I will go back to work soon. Thank you. Bill.”
I turned to Nate and opened my mouth to speak, but before words came out he said, “I agree.” Perhaps it was a result of spending 50+ days in a car together this summer, but Nate and I were on the same page immediately. As we approached Bill I asked how his day was going. He looked back at me with a smile and said, “Not too bad.” After making small chat for a while we learned Bill had worked for 8 years at a local lumber mill, but was laid off when cuts had to be made. He made no complaints about being laid off and he had no ill feelings towards the company that parted ways with him. Bill also went on to tell us about his two young daughters who were about to start up the school year once again. “They always want the expensive versions of everything,” he said with a bit of a chuckle.
As we spoke I noticed Bill’s hands. They were steady, but weathered from a lifetime of work. Like a granite stone his hands begged no attention, but told a story to those who listened. Bill sat on his bucket with his sign in much the same way. He greeted those who noticed him, but never demanded attention. Under a shady tree Bill politely shared his story to travelers taking a brief reprieve from the fast track through the forests of Oregon.
We left Bill with our best wishes and a gift that hopefully will provide a little support for him and his family. Before walking away we shook hands and for a brief second I felt all the years of work Bill’s hands had endured as the salt-of-the-earth, backbone of America and in that moment I wept inside for his struggles, but awed in his rock-like resilience. You never know when you may find yourself stuck at in a rest stop as the interstate of life speeds by you. Recognize when others are at that point and give them a hand – it just as well could be you one day.
Take time from the habitual fast lane; you might just find yourself helping others. #ProjectWildness
To Troy and Allison R… Both of you have been huge supporters of Project Wildness from the early days and I can’t express how moved I have been with your presence on social media with Project Wildness. You donated money without hesitation or a request, but I want you both to know that you helped a man who is down on his luck support his family. Both of you come from a community where there are many men like Bill working and others out of work due to circumstances beyond their control. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are.
To Barb S… When you donated you made a simple, but powerful request that your money should be used for any child in need. After talking with Bill we discovered that he had two daughters preparing to start another year of school. It’s no secret that back to school time is an expensive period for any family even when both parents have jobs. Know that your donation helped prepare two young girls for another successful year of school. Thank you for everything you do for your community and beyond.