‘The Ride for Change': Day 4 Recap
Well, we are over 900 miles in on The Ride for Change and I can't thank you all enough for your donations, encouragement, and support throughout this event.
Day 4 was a long travel day as I rode from Wichita Falls to Texarkana. Aside from about 20 miles of interstate travel, most was backroad-style of riding, which is my favorite.
One of my pitstops took place in Gainesville, which is the birthplace of my father and hero. I've got a ton of great memories of visiting family, in Gainesville, as a kid. My dad was also the one that instilled the be a good human spirit in me. Granted, it probably took longer to sink in, than he preferred, but it finally did.
So, spending a few minutes there thinking back on the incredible impact my father has had on my life was well worth it.
Also, I narrowly dodged a storm as I rode through Paris (Texas, not France) and boy was I lucky that I missed it. You see, I had limited cargo space, so I opted to leave my rain gear at home.
Anyone that rides, knows that when you leave your rain gear at home, you can almost guarantee getting wet. Fingers crossed my luck continues for the rest of the ride.
So, as I rode into Texarkana I was really impressed with all the growth along the highway. It didn't look like anything I heard about from my friends that live there. Well, that is until I went downtown to check out the state line.
Being that Texarkana is in, both, Texas and Arkansas, I did the uber-touristy thing and went downtown to take a picture of myself standing in both states - on the state line.
The ride to downtown was depressing as it was incredibly ugly and dilapidated. I was a bit worried I made a mistake.
Alas, I made it to the United States Post Office and Court House, where the state line divides the building. That was really cool, but the area of town it was in was terribly run down. There were tons of really old churches and other buildings, but only the churches looked nice.
The roads were terrible and most of the historic-type of buildings were in ruins.
Why am I painting such an ugly picture of downtown Texarkana? Well, because it's ugly. We can't all have pretty babies. The upside is it appears some of the buildings were undergoing some form of renovation.
However, as the saying goes, beauty is only skin deep and that holds true with Texarkana.
I spent a few minutes talking about The Ride for Change with some construction workers, but the real gem was when I met a lady by the name of Ernestine. At least, that's what I think she told me.
While walking around the courthouse area, I notice a couple of memorials - both honoring those who died in various wars. The first appeared to be a memorial for the two world wars and the other was for the Vietnam and Korean wars.
Like any tourist would do, I took pictures, but I quickly stopped when I noticed an elderly woman sitting on a bench at the Vietnam/Korean memorial.
She sat there staring at these two walls inscribed with names of those who lost their lives. It was almost like she was in a trance, so I attempted to walk away, as not to bother her. But, in true Frank Pain fashion, I tripped over the uneven concrete and dropped my phone.
At that moment, I heard her say "I did the same thing last time I was here". I giggled and told her that kind of stuff happens to me all the time. She followed by asking if I knew someone whose name was on the wall. I simply told her I was walking around checking the place out. I asked if she knew any of the names and she immediately perked up and said "my son fought in Vietnam and his younger brother in the Korean war".
She then said both perished in their respective conflicts.
Just as I was about to "show myself out", she followed by saying her father died in World War I and she always comes to the two memorial gardens to visit with them on their birthdays. This day happened to be the youngest sons' birthday.
Then there was a short, awkward pause in our conversation, but that pause didn't last long. She then asked me what my vest represented. At that point, I told her about The Ride for Change. The essence of our talk was about erasing the hate and embracing the love and she had some of the most poignant words I've ever heard when she said "there's plenty of love for everyone, we just can't be afraid to love". We didn't talk much more about the ride, but she did say her sons loved riding motorcycles. Seconds later, a car honked and the elderly woman got up and left.
At that very moment, I realized that the real beauty of Texarkana wasn't the buildings and such, rather the soul of the people living there. Those few short minutes with Ernestine proved to be some of the most valuable of my entire day.
She lost her loved ones many years ago, but celebrates them, still, to this day. That's something we can all learn from. It's not the amount of time we spend together, but the quality of that time we get.
Well, day 5 of the ride stops off in Tyler and we'll be at the Army Recruiting Station, on South Broadway, so if you're in the area, swing on by. I'd love to hear your stories and share why The Ride for Change is so important to me.
You can contribute to these Ride for Change scholarships on our GoFundMe page or anytime you see The Ride for Change in your neck of the woods.