A Trip of a Lifetime


Rua On His Motorcycle

Molli Carr, Reporter

A thrill seeker rides down back roads of Kansas, whipping wind pushing against him and his motorcycle.  Smells of open earth and atmospheric bliss overwhelm him with one inhale. The vast expanses of land he sees are scenic and open fields pass by with not a person around. “It was a trip of a lifetime,” math teacher Jack Rua says with enthusiasm. Imagine going on a 12,000-mile cross-country motorcycle journey for 6 weeks. “I had to convince my wife to let me go,” he says while laughing. Some might say he’s crazy while others would say he’s a hero. He refutes those who say he is crazy by saying, “There is this feeling I get being on two wheels. You are not in a cage and you are surrounded by nature.” He recalls looking down at the bottomless pits on the sides of the guard-less roads and wondering how far the drop would be if he were to make the wrong turn. Trying to make the right turns, he leans his body with the curves of the Kansas road, and follows the never-ending path to his next destination. “You learn to become one with the motorcycle,” Rua states emphatically.

Many students have had Mr. Rua as a teacher and most know he rides his motorcycles in his free time. “He talks about motorcycle riding a lot, I think it’s cool. You wouldn’t necessarily expect him to ride motorcycles,” Junior Amber Tharau says. Many students do not know that his motorcycle riding goes beyond simple trips locally to and from school. Not only did Rua cross-country travel, but he “roughed it” by tent camping all along his journey, and finding campsites as he went. “If worst came to worst we would have set up on the side of the road…but you don’t really want to do that.” He talks of the necessity of finding local gas stations as he went, and of people’s generosity he encountered along the way. “Strangers we had never even met before would ask us to come over for breakfast or dinner and we would get to know them.”

Rua kept in touch with his family and friends through social media sites such as Facebook, as well as using his phone and tablet he stored in his motorcycle. “My motorcycle charges my electronics so I didn’t need to worry about finding an outlet,” he says. At one point I asked him if he had any motorcycle troubles along the way. He replied “no” but said, “some of the people I was riding with had problems and would have to call around and find a repair place. One of them was stranded for 2 weeks in Illinois!”

Some places caught his eye because of their devastation factors. “In Colorado, Powell Lake was completely dried out and boats were on the sand. Nothing was around, and it was sad. In California, I saw signs protesting water rights because local towns were losing water due to diversion of water to cities. In many places I saw vast brown spaces resulting from no water.” Nevada, he recalled, was also dry. It was mostly desert he drove through and it was scorching hot. “We tried to get out of there as fast as we could, that’s for sure,” Rua says while shaking his head. Some beautiful areas he enjoyed were Washington, because there were tall trees and a beautiful coast line, and Montana and Utah, because of all the twisting roads. He recalled going to a few different National parks such as the Mammoth caves, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Olympic Forest.

“The twisty roads are better to ride on, more entertaining,” Rua laughs.

In South Dakota, he stopped at the Sturgis motorcycle rally. “It was definitely crowded with 600,000 people crammed in to this tiny town over a two week period, not to mention crazy! We were there for one night, and that was quite enough,” Rua says thoughtfully. He and his friends preferred the back roads along wide open land verses crowded streets and city driving. Rua says he actually enjoyed getting lost: “There’s a saying that if you are going to do it right, you have to take time and smell the roses. That is exactly what we did.” Rua will sit at his desk and remember this trip of a lifetime and wish he could feel that Kansas breeze once more. “Sometimes I pull into the school parking lot and it’s hard not to keep going.”