What would you do if one day you woke up and realized that you wanted to make the world a better place?

Well, that happened to me. One day about nine months after I retired from the United States Marine Corps I woke up and decided that I wanted to improve our world for generations to come.

More on that later, though…

Ride Out of the Darkness: Let’s change the world

My name is Grant, and August 31, 2016, was my last day on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. I retired as a Gunnery Sergeant and was 20 days shy of 18 years. I was no longer able to run a physical fitness test due to my deteriorating body. It wasn’t a shock to me when the medical board results came back and I was informed that I would have to either be medically retired or opt to be one of the last few Marines to apply for early retirement. I opted for the latter.

Originally from Oregon, and retired out of Camp Pendleton, California, I now maintain residence in Southern California, but Arizona will always be home. I too, have been bitten by the “motorcycle bug” and it has been the best thing that I ever decided to venture into. While stationed at New River Air Station in 2011, at the young age of 31, I was able to convince my second wife that it would be fine for me to get a motorcycle. The budget was tight. I found a 1998 Honda CBR6F3. It had only 55,000 miles on it and about five layers of paint and stickers. I cleaned it up, sanded all of the paint off, rattle canned it black and red, attended the required safety courses, and put 20,000 not-so-problem-free miles on it over a period of eight months. It wasn’t a Harley, but it was what I could afford. Needless to say, it was a great first bike, and even though it left me on the side of the road a few times, I miss it.

She had the final straw though, and the bike had to go. About a year later and the marriage was in shambles. I ended up deploying to Afghanistan in mid-2013 and while there I ordered a 2014 Street Glide through the Military Sales Program. Amber Whiskey was the color choice, and I am still in love with that color.

Ride Out of the Darkness: Let’s change the world

I got back to New River Air Station in on November 12, 2013. I quickly found a co-worker to drive me to New River Harley-Davidson across the street to pick up my bike. “Kate” was waiting for me ready to go, and go we did, just like a baby giraffe trying to figure out its legs! It had been a while since I had ridden anything, let alone a full bagger. And it showed! 94,678 miles, the lower 48 states, two states in Mexico, countless rallies and cross-country trips, thousands of amazing people, and about a billion smiles later, she is still treating me great. We even completed a 17,300-mile trip in 58 days after I retired from the Marine Corps. The saying “miles of smiles” is fully accurate.

I found one of my true passions later in life, and the past 4 1/2 years have been amazing because of it. I decided in December 2015 to purchase a 2015 Wide Glide to help keep some miles off of the FLHX. It didn’t fully happen as planned, but I still managed to rack up over 15,000 miles in two years.

So, traveling on my bikes is my zen. On the road, I am at peace. My mental health issues are minimal, if at all. I truly am relaxed, clear minded, and constantly smiling. But without the Marine Corps keeping me busy and without belonging to something bigger than myself, I still felt an emptiness. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I started working at a Harley dealership in southern California, in April 2017. Being around a constantly-changing supply of beautiful machines made me want a new bike. But I had two perfectly good bikes. I rode to Sturgis for the 77th rally and it made me miss the road. I had been throwing the idea of getting back on the road for an extended time around for a while, and this trip solidified my desire.

So what do I do? I didn’t want to just be on the road riding around aimlessly… I missed belonging to something bigger than I was. So I created something bigger than myself. I started planning a ride. A Ride Out of the Darkness. It was set. January 1, 2018, I was to get on the road to start a 100,000-mile journey to raise awareness for suicide prevention. My desires to get back on the road, help people, and make the world a better place all just became one thing. And most importantly, my amazing girlfriend was and is on board fully.

So, this is who I am, and I invite you to follow my journey on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If you check back next month, I will be talking about exactly what the trip is, how planning it happened, and why I decided to take on this cause.

Thank you for reading along, and thank you for your support!