I always knew people were inherently good. I’ve never had reason for a negative outlook on society, no bad experiences couch surfing, no issues spending time with strangers. Whenever I find myself in a pickle, it seems there’s always someone there to lend a hand, a ride, or even just a laugh. In general, I’ve found that people are, quite simply, awesome.

But there’s a difference between people-that-are-inherently-good and good people. If you’re from the South, you know what I mean. You know good people the moment you meet them, the second you shake their hand or look them in the eye. Without so much as an introduction, you know you can trust good people and let down your guard just enough to make room for a new experience. Good people are passionate and wise beyond their years. They’re humble, patient, generous, and most importantly, understanding.They get me. They get this crazy world we live in, how much it has changed and how much it will continue to change. They get that life is one long journey, that each encounter and each new place is just another pit stop.

I’ve met many a good people in my life, but I knew that this yearlong endeavor would open my tent-flap door to a whole new set of faces and stories. In the seven days I’ve been living on the road, I’ve experienced nothing but total support and encouragement. The excitement others express about my project helps me plow through any doubts that sometimes surface in the dead of night. New friends, old friends, Facebook friends, strangers at the gas station. Everyone’s given me a little piece of magic, a little glimmer of hope that no matter the obstacles I may face, this next year of my life will bring more good than bad.

The event that inspired this post happened over the weekend at the Cheat River Festival in Albright, W.Va. The moment I rolled onto festival grounds with the Jeep and Go in tow, a crowd of curious kayakers had formed around me.

“Bet you can’t set that up in less than 10 minutes,” one of the guys said.

“Time me,” I countered, hustling to the Go to start popping up the rig. 9 minutes later, I’d earned both the respect and the beer of the man who had challenged me. In no time, word had spread that I was not, in fact, just at the festival to represent Blue Ridge Outdoors or even SylvanSport for that matter; I was there to hang out and have a good time, one of the first stops on my yearlong adventure.

The next morning, I got my first dose of what I’ll have to start referring to as “mobile magic.” Tired, hungry, and a little unprepared for making breakfast, I was slow-moving that Sunday morning. Just as I was beginning to summon the motivation to pack up and head out, one of the food vendors stopped by to offer myself and a couple of the B.R.O. team some extra fried eggs they’d made for breakfast.

Digging into those scrumptious fried eggs. Photo: Ross Ruffing

Digging into those scrumptious fried eggs. Photo: Ross Ruffing

“We heard about what you are doing and we think it’s awesome,” the woman told me. I thanked her, graciously accepting the four fried eggs before we practically swallowed them whole.

An hour later, another person stopped by, this time from Water Street Cafe, an awesome restaurant located at the takeout of the Upper Yough in Friendsville, Md. He said his name was Chris and that he had two bags filled with delicious no-bake cookies and oatmeal melt-in-your-mouth bars that he wanted to get rid of.

Chris with Water Street Cafe.

Chris with Water Street Cafe.

“I heard about what you’re doing, and I figured they’d probably go to better use with you than coming back with me,” he said. I was speechless. Each bag weighed at least 5lbs (the no-bake cookie bag probably more). He stayed and chatted awhile, and I promised to come and visit whenever I ran the Upper Yough (hope you’re open Friday, Chris!).

Although I gave away some of Chris’ baked goods (seriously, if I get offered food like this every day I won’t be able to fit in the Go), the impact of those two simple acts of kindness resonated within me in a strangely subtle and comfortable way, like this was the way of the open road and that one day, I will be able to return those acts of kindness two-fold. At least, that is my hope.