DILLON & EARL SUMMER CAMPING TRIP 2017 – Northern California and Oregon
The last four days were awesome and one day was the best day so far on this trip! Keep reading and you will understand why I’m excited to get back home.
After leaving Manteca, CA, we traveled to Mt Shasta, CA. My college classmate and fellow Appalachian State University football teammate, Linwood Bryon Mathes, lives 8 miles away in Weed, CA. I have visited Weed a few times and I love it! Not necessarily because of the city, which is a nice city with a ton of family values, but because of Linwood’s Family. During my first visit, The Mathes’ invited me to their home and treated me like family. I was extra impressed with the way Linwood and his wife handled their teenage children (it was like watching a highly rated family sitcom with punch lines and love). They fed me, and of course, we laughed like no ones business. In fact, I explained to Linwood that when traveling, I rarely visit a home twice (friends or no friends). Well, my last visit to Weed, CA was my third and the same love was shown to Dillon.
Dillon and I decided to stay at the KOA-Mt Shasta. It’s a lovely location sitting just below the snow-covered mountain (yes, snow in July). When we arrived, the owner and I clicked because of the GO Camper. Just like everywhere we go, everyone wants to see how the GO sets up. After a few minutes of conversation, he set us up with our spot (he knew I needed WIFI so he put me close the office). Once I parked into the space, at least 10 people, including the KOA owner, watched Dillon and I set up the GO. Step by step, they watched our small lightweight trailer become an awesome camper that will sleep four VERY comfortably (it can sleep six if you don’t mind the closeness).
After the set-up was complete, Bob bragged and bragged about how cool our unit is and that many of the tent campers coming in would love to see it! As more people pulled in, Bob sent them to the GO and they all had the exact same reaction…open mouths and “WOW”!
After the GO fireworks settled down, Dillon and I showered (prior to coming to arriving at the KOA, we had been in the woods for two days without showers, so we were READY). We got dressed and traveled to meet Linwood and his young daughters at the local bowling alley. Dillon was eager to bowl, but he had only bowled a few times in his life. After introductions, it was time for Dillon to bowl. He asked if he could use the gutter rails and I said, “No”, simply because I wanted him to learn without them (similar to how he learned to swim without a floaty). Dillon rolled at least twelve gutter balls in the first game. He was visibly frustrated and I saw the “I want to play video games” look in his eyes because bowling was not working out very well.
Well, his third time up in the second game, it happened!!! Dillon rolled the ball with strength plus accuracy and it was damn near was a strike!!! My baby boy jumped up and said “I DID IT”! Linwood and girls cheered and from that point, another lesson of perseverance was taught on this trip (he never gutter balled again)
After being beat like a dirty rug in bowling by Linwood, we decided to walk over to the Karaoke side. Dillon was born in Atlanta, GA, so I requested to sing “Georgia” by Ray Charles (I wanted to celebrate my baby boys triumph with a song and I wanted to show Linwood I still had those college singing pipes too. After I sang, no one else wanted to sing (I don’t know if that was good or bad), but there was a young lady there celebrating her birthday with friends and I sang Happy Birthday to her. When we hopped in the truck to leave, Dillon said, “Dad, thanks for singing to me.” Yep, I cried. Which makes the 12th crying moment on this trip.
The next morning, I cooked breakfast, replied to emails, made phone calls and washed clothes. I asked Linwood to bring his girls over for lunch and to swim with Dillon. I cooked burgers and then joined them at the pool. The water was SUPER cold and Dillon wasn’t sure he wanted to jump in, so I jumped and he followed. YES, it was THAT cold, so I immediately got out. I wanted to teach Dillon how to go deep in the water, so I asked Linwood’s daughter to allow the goggles to float to the bottom. I then asked Dillon to dive deep to find them. It was a struggle but after twelve tries, he FINALLY got them! There were other parents and children looking at me as I continued to push, push and PUSH Dillon to get those goggles from the bottom of the pool (it was silent in the pool for a few minutes). One parent later told Linwood and I that he and his children felt bad for Dillon until they understood what I was teaching him. Just like bowling, I was encouraging Dillon never to quit on a task and persevere (parenting is different in every case, but in my house, we encourage our children to FINISH).
ON OUR WAY TO OREGON……
The next day, we drove 4 1/2 hours to Eugene, OR (home of the Oregon Ducks). Dillon is not a fan of the Ducks, so he clowns them for losing to UNC in basketball. I stopped by my client’s office and as soon as Dillon met him, he said, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I don’t like the Ducks.” I said, “Just say how you really feel brother”. He said, “I just did” lol. Anyways, I met with Ed, he gave us a tour and then we traveled to Oregon University for a meeting. I introduced Dillon to a few people, took him on the football field and we acted out him scoring a running touchdown.
THE LIFE CHANGING MOMENT FOR ME…..
Fast forward…we left the stadium and traveled north to the KOA in Corvallis, OR (home of the Oregon State Beavers). The next day, Moe Williams, my long time friend who lives about 30minutes away, visited us and decided to camp with us too. At the pool, Moe and I met a gentleman who stated that he had 10 children who I believe were all adopted (mixed races and genders). During our conversation, he told us that his son, Chris, was participating in the State Special Olympics a few miles away at 9:30am the next morning. I asked him what colors the team wore and he said, “black and yellow”. The next morning, Dillon and I got up and put on our black and yellow and proceeded to Corvallis High School to support Chris at the Special Olympics event.
I wanted to arrive early to greet Chris as he walked in, so we got there at 9am. When we saw Chris and his family, I believe they were shocked to see us all decked down in our black & yellow…but we were there and READY to cheer Chris on to gold! Before we witnessed the softball throw which was Chris’ event, we saw how AWESOME and EXCITED ALL the athletes were while competing. I mean, I saw passion like I had never seen before…it was better than watching professional athletes compete. The athletes who participate in the Special Olympics desire to be the BEST and it certainly tugged at my heart. That said, I played football at the highest level, but I have never wanted to coach UNTIL now. When I get back home, I’ll be locating the local Special Olympics organization to hopefully lend a hand. I was certainly moved emotionally and mentally as I watched so many people collectively add value to my life! Chris took 4th in the softball throw and Dillon and I received warm hearts watching him compete 😉
We traveled to the Oregon Coast to camp for a night and all I will say is…..IT WAS COLD, but the sand was hot! It was too cold to be on the beach, but we had to experience it 😉
I will share more with you guys about Oregon, but I’ll save it for after we conquer Washington! Again, thank you for following us!
OAN: I thought our trip across country was pretty dope, but we met a family of four riding their BICYCLES from Canada to California and back…read that again!
OANN: Dillon is holding up well. He has now been on the road with me for 31 days STRAIGHT! I hope to take him to the Locks today to see the salmon jump out the water and then we will travel to Victoria, British Columbia (Canada).