Captain’s Log (TT Day -10): The Adventure Begins

September 7, 2013

Missoula, Montana

Though there are now just 10 days until the official launch of the Tinker Tour, for me it began at 6:20a this morning as I typed “Liberty Bell” into my GPS and pulled away from my house in Ferndale, Wash.

Space Needle

Space Needle, Seattle, Wash.

The Liberty Bell or Bust! Pat (aka #3), Mike (#1) and Tim (#2) Hiestand leaving Seattle.

The Liberty Bell or Bust! Pat (aka #3), Mike (#1) and Tim (#2) Hiestand leaving Seattle.

First stop was Seattle, about 90 miles south, where I picked up Brothers #2 and #3 (also known as Tim and Pat) (I am #1 of 5 Hiestand brothers), who are helping me deliver the Tinker Tour Bus to Independence Mall in Philadelphia, where we’re kicking things off on Constitution Day (September 17).

While dreaming this wild ride up, raising the money, creating the itinerary – and doing all the other stuff has been (mostly) a lot of fun, leaving this morning wasn’t. Three months is the longest I’ve been away since Patty and I were married 25 years ago and — while a little “time off” from those you’re closest to does take you out of your daily rut and help you appreciate how lucky you are — I know it’s going to be tough on my wife and daughters, particularly my youngest, Ally, a high school junior.

So my first thank you goes out to them. Thanks for letting me turn a crazy dream — born in our hot tub almost a year ago (Truth) — into something now very, very — very — real.

I will see you Thanksgiving Day! (I’m not kidding. Looking at our schedule that is the day I’ll be home. How’s that for a Hollywood ending?)

More thank you’s to follow (I’ve got 2,912 miles to get them all in).

Today’s ride was 568 miles. Much of it was spent just getting used to driving the Tinker Tour Bus. It’s a beautiful rig. But it’s not the minivan I’ve mostly driven for the past 16 years. 29 feet – while pretty modest by RV standards — will take some getting used to. As will all the buttons and gizmos I’m now in charge of. My dad — an RV veteran — spent yesterday walking me through things, testing out a “dump station” (yep, that’s what they call them), driving around and generally getting a feel for moving around in a small apartment on wheels. (I’ve named her “Gabby.” Among other things, it seemed right for a bus devoted to “gabbing” and free speech.)

Mike with his mom and dad, Tom and Gerri Hiestand.

Mike with his mom and dad, Tom and Gerri Hiestand.

As long as I mentioned him — another big thank you to my pop, who joined my mom (who brought homemade scones) early this morning to hug me goodbye. I am so very grateful for everything.

And let’s just finish off the family thank you’s by thanking #2 and #3 for joining me on this epic cross country adventure. Chances are I’d be freaking out if I were all by myself right now. And thank you to #5 (aka Dan) — my business partner and soul brother — who was amazing during our StartSomeGood crowdsource campaign. There would be no Tinker Tour without you. I wish you were here. (Starting new jobs with no vacation time in the bank is no fun.) And #4 — Brian — who will join us in Philly along with my daughter Jessica.

The Tinker Tour is definitely a family affair for both Mary Beth and I. We are blessed.

So that’s the Captain’s Log for today. A bit sappy — but so be it.

Columbia River

Columbia River

We crossed the Columbia River, passed over a couple mountain passes and through lots of beautiful country today en route to Missoula, where tonight we’re parking in a Walmart parking lot. It’s free! It’s like this RV world secret I never knew about. So many more “secrets” to follow I’m sure.

Tomorrow is Big Sky Country!

Stay tuned.

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