I think that we all have our own places and things that we find therapeutic.  For me, one of those things is the drive.  Being in our motorhome and heading down the open road is incredibly serene and tranquil to me.

So far on our journey, I have done all of the driving, with the exception of maybe about 100 feet or so when Sandy pulled us up or back in a campsite to get us lined up better to our hookups.  I tease her about that quite a bit, but to be truthful, I really don’t mind doing all of the driving at all.  As a matter of fact, it is quite good for my soul.

At the end of the day, I guess that it’s in my blood.  As you all know, my mom did this traveling thing on her own, so she did all of the driving by herself.  My dad was an over-the-road truck driver, he did all of his driving by himself.  So, between those two wandering souls, how could I have ended up doing anything different?

It’s funny how when we look back on our lives and connect the dots, things make so much more sense than they did at the time that we were going through it.

After I graduated high school, I went to recording school to become a sound engineer.  I wasn’t thrilled with the concept of being a studio engineer because most studios were located in big cities.  I wasn’t a fan of big cities back then, nor am I now.  In my mind, a city is a great place to visit, but not a place for this soul to live.  I prefer open spaces over crowded places any day.

What was intriguing to me though, was live sound engineering.  Being on the open road, in a different city each night, the rush of the crowd, the adrenaline of being part of an event coming together, that was my cup of tea.

Then a funny thing happened, God had other plans for me for a while.

While I was still looking at sound engineering options, I got a job at a local bank to pay the bills until something in the music industry opened up.  That move, although I didn’t realize it at the time, would bring two very significant people into my life.

The first was Russ Herbein, who was my supervisor at the bank, and would quickly become one of my first real mentors.  He was so much more than a supervisor; he was like another father figure to me.  He treated all of his employees with respect.  He pushed us to get our jobs done, but we all knew that he cared about us a human as well and that is what made us want to do our best for him.

He saw something in me at my young age that I certainly didn’t see in myself at the time.  He got me involved with the Spring-Lawn Optimist Club and saw that I had leadership potential.  He encouraged me to take on leadership roles in the club even though I was so much younger than most of the other members.  I eventually went on to be the club president and later a Lt. Governor, both at a very young age.

Russ was also the one who suggested that we approach the Optimist Club to sponsor the adult baseball league that we started in 1989.  He opened the door to get an article about the league published in our local newspaper.  Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for Russ, the Berkshire Baseball and Softball Club and BIG Vision Foundation would have never come to fruition.

Our friendship was so strong that even though the last day that I worked for Russ was almost thirty years ago, we still remain very good friends yet today.

The second person that I came in contact with while I was working at the bank, would later become my wife, Sandy.  At only 19 years old, with a daughter of my own, I started dating a woman who was 11 years older than me, had three kids, and was going through divorce.  In the beginning, I would have never thought that it would have turned into a life-long bond of love and friendship, but God knew better.  An outsider may not have thought it, but God sent Sandy to me at exactly the perfect time of my life.

So, my desire of traveling the country and running sound for live concerts shifted to traveling the country with baseball teams.

From the very beginning of our organization, we traveled.  When we were solely an adult baseball organization, we traveled.  We traveled to Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, you name it, if someone called and told us that they had a bat and ball and wanted to play, we would hop in our cars or vans, or buses and go play.

When we branched out into youth baseball and softball, we took on that same theory.  Our teams played in tournaments in Las Vegas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and all across the Mid-Atlantic region.  I was getting that travel fix with baseball and having sometimes as many as ten teams of teenagers in tow.  Even then, one of the things that I looked forward to the most was the drive.  If we were in vans, I was probably driving, if we were in a bus, I was just in the front row, but either way, the drive was serene for me.

Once we took over the complex, our teams traveled a lot less and many times when they did travel, I generally would not be traveling with them.

I guess that it was at that point that my restless, wandering soul started to feel caged in a little bit.

In January of 2018 a few members of my staff and I went up to Connecticut to attend the World Baseball and Softball Coaches Convention.  That trip was very therapeutic for me.  We left a little early and took our time.  Stopped for lunch at Mystic Pizza and took another little road trip into Boston at the end of the convention to see one of my old players, Jimmy Everhart.

We traveled back to Pennsylvania on January 21, which at the time was the 13th anniversary of my mother’s passing.  My mom was with us that weekend.  I could feel it.  She was starting to plant a seed in my soul.  On our way back we stopped at the 9/11 Memorial along I-95 in Sherwood, Connecticut.  This was a memorial that I had never heard of and I had probably traveled that section of I-95 a dozen times since my mother’s passing.  Yet on this day, the day of the 13th anniversary of my mother’s passing while driving a rental car with Florida plates on it, we happen to see the sign for the memorial.  As my two young staff members and I walked around the memorial, you could certainly feel a heaviness in the air.

From the location that we were at, you could see the towers burning on September 11, 2001.  As the three of us stood there and looked across the water to where the towers once stood, I said to them, “She’s here.  She’s out there in that water.  I can feel her.”  They agreed.

We had spread my mom’s ashes in the Atlantic Ocean off of the Sebastian Inlet in Florida, we knew that she wouldn’t be staying there very long, so it wasn’t a stretch that she had made her way to the coast of Connecticut on that day.

God was using her to plant a seed to tell me that it was soon time for my wandering soul to move on.  I had done enough in the place that I was at.  It was soon time to move.

The following year, in January and February of 2019, I went on two more road trips.  This time, by myself.

The first one, I left on New Year’s Day to drive to the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association) Convention in Dallas, Texas.  Like the year before, I actually took some time to enjoy the journey.  I covered almost 4,000 miles and 12 states on that trip.

I connected with people.  I was able to meet some of our vendors face-to-face at the convention.  I was able to have dinner with my friends Leah Amico and Crystl Bustos while in Dallas.  On the way home, I went through Louisiana and was able to spend some time with my friends Jennie Finch and Lori Pritchett.  It was a very special time.  The drive was so incredibly peaceful.

When I got home, I wrote several new chapters to my book.  I had found an inspiration that I hadn’t had in quite some time.

Later that year, I took another road trip on February 20 to head down to Orlando to spend some time with my friends Ali Krieger and Cynthia Hobgood.  I also participated in one of Ali’s AKFC adult soccer camps.  Uncharacteristically, I once again enjoyed the journey.  I stopped in Atlanta to see one of my old players, Zac Schneider.  We were able to have dinner and spend some time together.  It was great to see how well he was doing with his life and how successful he was.  When I got to Orlando, I stayed at my cousin Carole’s house and got to spend some time with her and her sister, Patty.

As we were leaving Ali’s event on Friday night, my cousin Patty said to me, “I can definitely see you doing what your mom did.”  I literally laughed at her when she made the comment and replied, “No, that’s not for me.”

On my way back to Pennsylvania, I backtracked into Melbourne before heading north.  I went to see my Aunt Sally, Uncle Randy, Uncle Tom, and Aunt Lu Ann.  I took my time again on the drive home.  Took the long way home you could say.  All the while, God was speaking to me.  Planting that seed to tell me that it was time for a new chapter.

My wandering soul had been still for long enough.  I had done enough where I was at.  It was time to move on.  It was time to drive.

Since we’ve on this new journey, I have told many people that my only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner, but the truth is, that wasn’t God’s plan.  Had we done it sooner, it wouldn’t have been right.  If I had gone into the music industry over 30 years ago and traveled across the country then, it wouldn’t have been right.  If we would have decided to do this five or ten years earlier than we did, it wouldn’t have been right.

Steve Jobs once said that you can only connect the dots looking backward, you can’t connect them looking forward.  That is so true, only upon reflection can you really understand how God has worked in your life.  The miracles, the near misses, the unanswered prayers, every victory, and every defeat.  Every painful heartbreak, every obstacle that has been overcome.  Every peak and every valley, they were all working out in your favor.  We can’t recognize it in the moment; we can only recognize it when we look back.  In the moment, we just need to have faith and trust God that He has a greater plan.  That isn’t always easy, but definitely necessary.

God’s plan for me was to marry Sandy, raise our uniquely mixed family, and work in a field that would change the lives of young people in my community for 30 years.  Now that I’ve done that, it’s time to drive.

If we’re in one spot for too long, I start to get the itch and know that it’s soon time to drive again.  Time to find new earth under our tires and feet.  Time to move, time to try to satisfy our wandering hearts.

Yes, that’s when I know that it’s time to drive, and even more importantly, it’s time for both of us to enjoy that drive.