The Misadventures of Ian Heller

Make No Little Plans.


Folds of Honor

Mission Accomplished But the Journey’s Just Started

Professional pictures forthcoming but this gives you the idea: Steve Buscher, a Safety Program Manager for HD Supply White Cap and our primary liaison to Folds of Honor, stands on the left. That’s me on the right. In the middle is Major Dan Rooney, the CEO and Founder of the organization. 

The day started out much less auspiciously: 

Lots and lots of rain. Which is fine — I ride in the rain. I pulled over at this gas station because of the plentiful supply of nearby lightning. As I fueled up, a driver heading east (I was going west), told me they’d just driven through hail — a particular problem on a motorcycle. So, I waited for 20 mins before heading out again. 

I had a chance to tour our branch in Tulsa, courtesy of Caleb Long, our manager there, and meet his great team. The place looks great and I bet that group provides great service to our customers in the Tulsa area. Then we headed off to the Folds of Honor party, which was held in a set of tents near the lake where their new offices will be built — courtesy of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Tulsa; this group is donating all of the labor and construction management for the project and coordinating many of the material donations as well. That’s an awesome contribution to a great cause! 

Here, Major Rooney stands next to a rendering of the upcoming building — which will sit on land that has been donated as well: 

Soon after I shot this picture, eight of the largest celebrities I’ve ever seen in my life showed up and it was majestic:

Note the Dalmatian, who travels with the team; his name is “Clyde.” Budweiser is a huge supporter of Folds of Honor — Major Rooney cold-called their corporate offices every six months for three years and now they’ve donated millions of dollars to the cause. 

As soon as the ceremony wrapped up, I hit the road again. I stayed in Enid, OK last night and am writing this as I prepare to head out to Colorado, where I’ll meet up with my brother Clive and another friend and head to California and then, who knows? We have about 12 days to wander the west and I can’t wait to continue the journey. 

Speaking of the “Journey Just Starting,” that’s not only literally true because my ride continues now. I’m also referring to supporting Folds of Honor. It was my honor to contribute to this cause. I will continue to use my position and resources to keep supporting this charity because it’s run by such terrific people and they do such important work. 

I’ll keep you posted on both journeys if you keep checking this space…

2017 Folds of Honor Ride – Day 1

Me — at Zero Miles

I’ve been planning this trip for months, so of course I was scrambling like mad the last two days to get ready to leave. Anticipating my long time away from home, my wife Penny headed to New Orleans with her sister. They left a couple of days ago — to avoid getting in my way, she said. I think this is code for, “You’re going to be distracted and slightly annoying while you pack, so I think I’ll leave town.” Probably a good call, although I’m always more lonesome at home by myself than I am in a lonely hotel by the highway, for some reason. 

They seem to be having a great time, which validates her decision — although we are at an age where the temptations of even legendarily fun destinations like New Orleans lose some of their appeal: Just as I checked into my hotel in Conway, AR, tonight, she texted me for my Netflix log-in credentials, so I think their evening is about as wild as mine, despite the party reputation gap between the two cities. 
After heading west from Atlanta to Birmingham, AL, I took I-22 northwest to Memphis. Unbeknownst to me, that road turns into US Highway 76 as you get close to Memphis and — after hours cruising at 70MPH — everything slows down and you come upon a long series of stoplights over the course of several miles. Worse, a fender-bender somewhere in the middle of this resulted in a very long, idle-speed delay, so I cooked in my helmet for a good 45 minutes, watching the temperature gauge hold at 98 degrees. I finally exited, navigated by “dead reckoning” (an old sailor’s term for “guessing”) and somehow wound up where I was supposed to be — on I-40 West, bound once more for Tulsa!

I came across a quiet and pristine (ignoring the major interstate nearby, of course) rest area in Madison, AR, where I let the bike cool and enjoyed the air conditioning for a few minutes. 

During last year’s long, cross-country ride, I experienced no rain at all until the last couple of hours before I arrived home — in other words, it was dry weather for about 6,000 miles. This year, I experienced rain off and on for about an hour on my very first day. Just like last year, I kept right on going — I welcomed the cool relief and left my rain gear in the saddle bags. 

I tend to be very mission-focused (some might say obsessive-compulsive) when I ride, so meals are just fuel for me. In that spirit, I stopped at a McDonald’s in Lonoke, AR, for a “lo-carb” burger and a Diet Dr. Pepper. Outside, a minor drama played out as a family studied the engine of their minivan until a tow truck came to fetch the stricken vehicle to be looked at by a qualified professional. This close to Memphis, FedEx trucks are simply everywhere.

My iPhone is mounted on the handlebars of my bike and as I cruised along, it occurred to me that it was poised to take a photo of the setting sun. Daring myself to capture this shot without unmounting the phone (or crashing), I took several snaps, not sure what I’d find when I could finally look at my pictures. I got decidedly mixed results, as you can see. At least it’s artsy. 

I’m now at a Holiday Inn Express (“Express” being the retail term for, “less to offer than our better establishments”) and will depart in the morning for Owasso, OK, a suburb of Tulsa. As I parked the bike here, a man stopped by to chat (that happens constantly when you ride a motorcycle) and asked me where I was headed. When I told him about Folds of Honor, he proudly told me that he just retired from a “great, 22-year career” in the Arkansas National Guard and thanked me for raising money for such an important cause. I thanked him for his military service and we shook hands. It was a very nice, though brief, conversation. 

At 4PM tomorrow, I will participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Folds of Honor headquarters expansion. I will hand over a big fake check representing actual funds in the amount of $30,000 to Major Dan Rooney, the founder and CEO of the foundation. Once that ceremony is completed, I will hit the road again — I am heading to Colorado to meet up with my brother Clive and another friend, so we can ride to California and points beyond. It’s a long way from Owasso to Del Norte, CO, so I will need to ride into the night tomorrow. But that’s a good thing: Oklahoma is mighty warm in the summertime and a long, evening ride will be fun and cool. 

So far, the bike is running great and I’m great enjoying my latest adventure. I can’t wait to head out again tomorrow and see the fantastic team at Folds of Honor!

2017 Cross Country Tour for a Cause

It’s nearly time for my 2017 cross country motorcycle tour, but this time I’m doing it for a great cause — I’m supporting “Folds of Honor,” a fantastic, very high quality charitable foundation that funds educational scholarships for the spouses and children of military personnel who are killed or disabled in action. 

On June 15th, I’ll leave my home near Atlanta bound for Tulsa, OK. The “Freedom Rally,” made up of cars and motorcycles from around the country, will take place in Tulsa on June 17th. My goal is to raise $10,000 for  this great cause by getting donations from friends and colleagues. 

Once the rally is over, I’ll head west to meet up with my brother (Clive) and a few other friends for an extended tour. We’ll head to California, go up to Seattle, then over to Montana and wind up in Denver.

Last year’s ride to British Columbia was my first true cross-country road trip. At this point in the planning (about a month out), I nervous, excited and had gone through about 20 revisions of my packing list. This year, I feel much more calm and am probably too relaxed — I have much to do and I need to get going!

One thing I’ve learned how to do is to blog from the road. I’ll do a better job of it this year and hope to include more photographs as well. In the meantime, if the mood strikes you, please make a tax-deductible contribution to Folds of Honor by following this link: 


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