Where Roads Meet……

Coming out of Conifer, CO I meet Joe the Trooper. The heat this morning has given me a taste of things to come in the days ahead. We chat briefly at a roadside stop about my journey and I learn that he has 28 years of military service with two tours in Afghanistan. Joe will escort me down a sketchy section of the highway through the canyon, to an exit I need to get to, courtesy of the Colorado State Patrol. I realize as I descend, that I will not see these Rocky Mountains again for a very long time and it saddens me. The fresh, clean air, the smell of the pines, the cool summer mornings have revitalized me in the same way warm summer rain can turn the grass green in a few short hours……As I approach my exit I motion Joe to stop and come up to me. He deserves the honor of placing this young Marines Flag and accepts and we salute together….there is a moistness, a sadness in his eyes and I sense his duty, his time, has been difficult. Joe is gratious and appreciative and walks back to his car. He rolls away. As he served from afar, he serves now, a protector to us all.

In the days to come I would pass through Golden and Boulder and move on to Loveland and Fort Collins. Each step taking me closer to the plains of eastern Colorado and on to Nebraska.  It is near Loveland,  coming down an overpass, that I see the older couple standing by their car, in the shade, waiting for me. He is Bob and she is Maryanne. They have been married 65 years. Bob served in New Guinea and the Phillipines in WWII. They remind me again of what love should be, valued and preserved each year and growing richer even as the body and mind age. Maryanne holds their tiny, brown dog Cocoa then hands him to Bob and pulls out a piece of paper. It is the story of the “Guardian”. You see, in my story, the Guardian is their son Dick and they wanted to share that with me. She pulls out pictures of her son with the rail yard he has created. Complete with a working steam engine, train cars and tracks and trestles, his skill with replication is magnificent. They are very proud and their faces, like Joe the Trooper show much gratitude.

As the sun climbs higher the temperature rises and as I get closer to Fort Collins I see my next encounter. He is parked just off the road in a maroon SUV and as he steps out, he proudly places his black 1st Calvary hat on and greets me on the road. Army Sergeant Blake Harris was his son and was killed in June of 2006. I placed his flag in Teton National Park last month. Like his father, he too was 1st Calvary……… His father shakes my hand and thanks me from the heart. He gives me a picture of Blake, one that I will take across the plains that lie ahead, all the way to the Atlantic.

Many, many days I am alone on the road with only my quiet thoughts to entertain me but it is the chance encounter, fleeting and far between that refuels me and makes the miles as short as the breadth I take, as pavement disappears under my feet and my day draws to a close.


  1. Doug

    What a great adventure, I have to omit I’m envious and proud of what you are doing and often think of you on my runs. I wish you all the best on your journey, who knows maybe I’ll be able to run a couple miles with through Illinois.


  2. Lori

    Yes I can understand you missing that which you have passed through,
    Yet you have the pictures and the memories , and many peoples heart felt words and hugs to keep you going….
    And I have no doubts those who watch over you from above will inspire you when your tired…………..
    You are a true inspiration to us all
    and thanks for sharing

  3. Carol

    Thanks for a short walk with my grandson and me as you came into Loveland. God bless you.

  4. kath

    what a beautiful state Colorado is…..more importantly the beautiful people you have met there & touched their lives beyond what words could say.

    every step of your way no doubt you have touched so many lives.

  5. Trish

    I look forward to your posts. I read them with tears in my eyes. We miss you heare in Hope but are thankful for your journey.

  6. Paul

    Mike I am very proud to learn you are coming to my small town in Crook, Co. on Tuesday. I look forward to meeting you and talking about your amazing journey. I will thank you in person and will thank you NOW. The journey so many service men and women have taken, many lucky enough to make the journey home, and be thanked in person by the people they encounter. That is the awsome part. I still today go out of my way to thank anyone I see in an United States Military Uniform. Unfortunately their are those that dont make it home, and gave the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE, for our freedom, and your journey is inspirational and keeps us retired military STANDING TALL, SHOULDERS BACK, HEAD HIGH. THANK YOU and I will be very proud to shake your hand and SALUTE YOU!!!! SEMPRI FI.

  7. Teresa C

    I was headed to work on Friday 7/16, headed south on 287 south of Fort Collins. I had seen the news piece on 9 News out of Denver, the day before. So, I had a double take when I saw you stop at the mile marker, and a man was exiting a vehicle to come to greet you. 4 miles south, there was a couple taking pictures of one of the flags you had just left.
    Thank you for your service, and for making me think of all the lives we have lost in service and that are still serving.

    Seeing what you are doing, encourages me to keep knitting hats, scarves, and socks to send to Iraq and Afghanistan through The Ships Project.
    I can’t serve, but I can support.

  8. John Fenton

    Somewhere between meeting Cali and this story of the Trooper you planted a flag for my son, Marine Sgt Matthew Fenton. I cannot put into words how your story and your wonderful tribute to my son and his fellow fallen affects me. I feel pretty sure that it is one of the biggest fears that the families of those brave soldiers have. That they will be forgotten. That their sacrifice will be forgotten. Not by the families, but by the general public.
    Thank you.

  9. Janet

    Your meeting of Bob and Mary Anne near Loveland thrilled them immensely. They are very proud of you and those like you. They are my parents and they loved meeting you. Thank you

  10. Lori

    Praying those Families that visit here know their Children will never be forgotten by You or By me and my Veterans. We post their names and pay tribute to them every day on our site Never Forget.


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