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    • MikeO's "inspection of the colonies" and Seán's "took a little ride" ride report showed me a side of the US that wasn't in the tour guides.

      I think a critical ingredient to ADV's rise was how we were naturally drawn to adventurous characters. Sean was incredibly entertaining and inmates (more on that word later) would message me saying how much they LOVED his stories. They had everything: love, adventure, conflict, a dog...

      When SmugMug was young, he stopped by with his dog on the way to Guatemala where he was going to teach English as a second language. I knew how good a writer he was so I offered him a job and he became employee #7, I think. He wrote the line "Your photos look better here" which SmugMug still uses in various places. He is a key player in SmugMug's education and VIP support. He was just on Skype with @rtwPaul helping with something.

      Here's what he casually wrote in 2007 on his ride:

      By 11:30 am I've returned to sea level, and the Pacific comes into view. The sun is shining and I am warm enough to take off the wooly. For better or worse, I am determined to bring every bit of color I can with me as I venture further north. I'm still not sure when I'll get home, but when I do, I want to look like I have been very far away. Wife beater armed, Mr. Sol, do your stuff!

    • Forgive me for touching on a very emotional time in your life but you said you were in NY when you got the call that Ben was ok. I seem to remember that was also when the attack on 9/11 happened?

      I was in NY near the Twin Towers when the planes flew into them. As I stood there in shock, struggling to put it in context with events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the sinking of the Titanic, a policeman asked if I would volunteer for the triage center.

      As he led me through the horror, I believed this had to be a vivid nightmare and I struggled to force myself awake. There was no way to appreciate the scale of it by watching TV. Just the sound of bodies falling from the sky put hardened firefighters into shock.

      There is a film, however, my second-favorite documentary of all time, that truly captured the love, heroism and tragedy of the day:

      97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I've watched it several times.

      For years I've told the story of how I took my escape ride to Mexico after surviving the fall of the towers, but I checked the dates. I rode in May of 2001 and the towers fell in September. That shows how memory can be contaminated.

      We talked about 9/11 on ADVrider in a huge thread in Jo Momma. I was pretty tolerant of edgy and misinformed dialog in there, but the angry conspiracy theories claiming it was staged made me crazy. That was when I came to understand what could go wrong with Jo Momma and that it simply wasn't in me to let a theory like that take hold and get amplified. I banned a few good riders and friends over that and nearly shut Jo Momma down. 😢

      There was another New York-based drama strangely connected to Ben's mission that got me to hop on my motorcycle and ride away. I'll tell that later.