What would you do if one day you woke up and realized that you wanted to make the world a better place?
Well, that happened to me. One day about nine months after I retired from the United States Marine Corps I woke up and decided that I wanted to improve our world for generations to come.
More on that later, though…
My name is Grant, and August 31, 2016, was my last day on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. I retired as a Gunnery Sergeant and was 20 days shy of 18 years. I was no longer able to run a physical fitness test due to my deteriorating body. It wasn’t a shock to me when the medical board results came back and I was informed that I would have to either be medically retired or opt to be one of the last few Marines to apply for early retirement. I opted for the latter.
Originally from Oregon, and retired out of Camp Pendleton, California, I now maintain residence in Southern California, but Arizona will always be home. I too, have been bitten by the “motorcycle bug” and it has been the best thing that I ever decided to venture into. While stationed at New River Air Station in 2011, at the young age of 31, I was able to convince my second wife that it would be fine for me to get a motorcycle. The budget was tight. I found a 1998 Honda CBR6F3. It had only 55,000 miles on it and about five layers of paint and stickers. I cleaned it up, sanded all of the paint off, rattle canned it black and red, attended the required safety courses, and put 20,000 not-so-problem-free miles on it over a period of eight months. It wasn’t a Harley, but it was what I could afford. Needless to say, it was a great first bike, and even though it left me on the side of the road a few times, I miss it.
She had the final straw though, and the bike had to go. About a year later and the marriage was in shambles. I ended up deploying to Afghanistan in mid-2013 and while there I ordered a 2014 Street Glide through the Military Sales Program. Amber Whiskey was the color choice, and I am still in love with that color.
I got back to New River Air Station in on November 12, 2013. I quickly found a co-worker to drive me to New River Harley-Davidson across the street to pick up my bike. “Kate” was waiting for me ready to go, and go we did, just like a baby giraffe trying to figure out its legs! It had been a while since I had ridden anything, let alone a full bagger. And it showed! 94,678 miles, the lower 48 states, two states in Mexico, countless rallies and cross-country trips, thousands of amazing people, and about a billion smiles later, she is still treating me great. We even completed a 17,300-mile trip in 58 days after I retired from the Marine Corps. The saying “miles of smiles” is fully accurate.
I found one of my true passions later in life, and the past 4 1/2 years have been amazing because of it. I decided in December 2015 to purchase a 2015 Wide Glide to help keep some miles off of the FLHX. It didn’t fully happen as planned, but I still managed to rack up over 15,000 miles in two years.
So, traveling on my bikes is my zen. On the road, I am at peace. My mental health issues are minimal, if at all. I truly am relaxed, clear minded, and constantly smiling. But without the Marine Corps keeping me busy and without belonging to something bigger than myself, I still felt an emptiness. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I started working at a Harley dealership in southern California, in April 2017. Being around a constantly-changing supply of beautiful machines made me want a new bike. But I had two perfectly good bikes. I rode to Sturgis for the 77th rally and it made me miss the road. I had been throwing the idea of getting back on the road for an extended time around for a while, and this trip solidified my desire.
So what do I do? I didn’t want to just be on the road riding around aimlessly… I missed belonging to something bigger than I was. So I created something bigger than myself. I started planning a ride. A Ride Out of the Darkness. It was set. January 1, 2018, I was to get on the road to start a 100,000-mile journey to raise awareness for suicide prevention. My desires to get back on the road, help people, and make the world a better place all just became one thing. And most importantly, my amazing girlfriend was and is on board fully.
So, this is who I am, and I invite you to follow my journey on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If you check back next month, I will be talking about exactly what the trip is, how planning it happened, and why I decided to take on this cause.
Thank you for reading along, and thank you for your support!