Yesterday I drove from West Plains to Nevada (the town's name is pronounced Ne-vay-da). Getting there, as usual, was entrusted to my always quirky, never right, GPS system.
Things started off good as it led me to US Hwy 60. Eventually I made it through Springfield and got on Route 13. Later on I turned onto Missouri Route N and this is when the fun started.
At first the road had nothing on the road I mentioned a few days ago by Piedmont. This road was actually enjoyable with gradual banked turns, some sweeping bends, and some steep hills. While this was like Piedmont's Route 34, there was plenty of run off and no trees right off the road.
As I was within an hour from Nevada I saw an ominous sign, "Route N closed 4 miles ahead for bridge replacement". That's fine, I thought, because there's always a detour sign, right?
Four miles turned into three, turned into two, and I made it to the end where the barricades were. In the four miles there was no alternate route offered. I looked at my GPS and made the choice to choose the road to my right. Thus began the true special stage.
This photo is only a small section of the twentysomething miles I did on this road. For one reason or another on this road I was deep in thought and became completely at peace.
At first I was worried about my new car, but then I quickly became thankful that it is all wheel drive. After that I marveled in my isolation. I saw no cars and no people the entire time on this road. I thought back to a couple years ago and the fact that I never would have gone down a road like this, but on this day I had to be in Nevada to do a presentation. Excessive backtracking wasn't an option and like it or not I was going to have to risk my car to get there in time.
The hills came, and the turns became sharper. I yearned for a handbrake so I could pull off an impressive slide, but it was probably a good thing I don't have one. As I rounded a long downhill turn it hit me that I have never been happier. My journey for Autism Awareness Month began eight days ago and I have traveled over 1,100 miles and gave so many presentations that I can recall at this point in time, but just look at my Missouri map on the lower right hand side! All the light blue, plus the gold in Laclede, have been on this trip. How awesome is that? On top of all that I still can't believe people come to hear me speak. Two years ago I only spoke over Xbox Live and at the racetrack and now I talk nonstop for almost two hours.
This road was a great example of how my life has turned out. I was sure I was going to race cars much like I was sure I was going to take route N all the way to wherever I needed to go, but there was a bridge out and a road that didn't look all that attractive was taken. Along the way there were bumps, hills, valleys, and lots of rocks. And yet, this road did take me to where I needed to go and while it took more time than I imagined, I made it having a great story to talk about.
With each presentation I grow more passionate about what I am doing. There have been times that exhaustion has started to set in, but then I fight it off because this message has got to be heard. I have to be on at every presentation because I have no clue how much of an impact the people that hear my presentation will have on people that they know.
There is hope in understanding and I want to do my best in getting people to understand. There are so many people in need to hear this and I keep hearing in these presentations that parents wish schools would hear my presentation. I hope in the future this can happen.
Yesterday is a day I am going to remember forever. Driving down that dirt road I had so many thoughts and over and over I realized that I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else and I wouldn't want to be anyone else as I am fully happy with all the gifts and challenges I have.