About the Trip
About Will Freeman
A former All-American pole vaulter and Olympic Trials finalist for the University of Florida, where he is a member of the UF Athletic Hall of Fame, Will Freeman is the highly successful Track & Field and Cross Country Coach at Grinnell College (IA). A former chairman of the USATF Coaching Education Program where he is Level III certified, Freeman has also been the chair of the NCAA Div. III Track & Field and Cross Country Committee.
He has coached beginners to national champions in his 37 years at Grinnell and his teams have won 31 Midwest Conference titles in track and cross country.
The author or co-author of 6 books, he has also created 19 coaching videos and many articles on track and field, cross country and the art of coaching. Freeman is a popular clinician and speaker both nationally and internationally. His hobbies are writing, roadtrips, motorcycles and sports cars.
As a young 5th grader and avid reader, I read Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis for a school book report. I was a confident 11 year old, sure I was going to be a pilot and then, no doubt, on to NASA…until my poor eyesight nixed those dreams. Reading Lindbergh unlocked something in me that still excites me to this day: the joy of exploring, road tripping, and of writing. Later, there would be many other books that would resonate with me from authors who wrote of their journeys. Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie, Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Kerouac’s On the Road, and Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways all struck a nerve. I would later write about my own travels in The Quest, with interesting themes of parenting, road trips, native American philosophy, and motorcycling.
In early 2017, I had lunch with a colleague at Grinnell College, American Studies professor Dr. Kesho Scott. A well-known writer and speaker, Dr. Scott and I hit it off immediately. She had read The Quest and it has resonated with her. By the end of lunch that day, we were already planning a cross disciplinary course on “American Journeys”. To be offered in the fall semester of 2017, it would chronicle and study those writings above, as well as many others. We were interested in the American Journeys of those both famous and not. It would end up being a remarkable experience for students and professors alike.
While the long motorcycle trips chronicled in The Quest occurred 16 years ago, I had been feeling the urge to hit the road again. Not sure that I wanted to take on a major trip on two-wheels again, I also knew that four wheels was not what I wanted. But… why not 3 wheels?
I decided on the hand-made English Morgan 3-wheeler for the trip. The goal? Write about the people I meet and the places I see. It would be the perfect choice for meeting people. As part of our American Journeys course, the students collaborated with me to determine a route that would meet the following criteria:
- Visit all 48 contiguous states
- Avoid big cities
- Two lane highways only
- No chain hotels or food, only Mom and Pop places
- See historic places
- See unique places
- See national parks
- See landmarks
The students came through! Other students have developed the algorithm for the most efficient route that meets the criteria, and the website and blogsite. By Jan, 2018, sponsors were being lined up, and planning accelerated.
The trip specifics:
- Start Date: May 21st (commencement day at Grinnell College)
- Return date: August 15th.
- General route: straight south, then west, up the coast and across the top of the US. Then into the northeast, down the east coast to Fl, then back through southeastern states to Iowa.
- The vehicle: A new 2017 Morgan 3-wheeler made by the Morgan Motor Co. of Malvern, England, and was bought from Auto Europe of Birmingham, MI.
On the Path to Knowledge and Wisdom
When Will Freeman sets off with his twelve-year-old son on a cross-country motorcycle adventure, he thought he knew exactly where the road would take them: California. At least, that was the destination he had planned. But then they stop in Denver for a night and wind up seeing The Horse Whisperer at the movie theater. Unexpectedly, Freeman and his son both feel drawn to ride north instead of west.
Their road, they will soon learn, leads to Wyoming. It is there that they encounter Great Thunder, a Native American shaman. He was expecting their arrival.
Over the next several days, Freeman takes on the role of student and absorbs the teachings of Great Thunder, listening to his mentor’s wise stories about intuition, integrity, dreams, and nature. He learns about simplifying one’s life and what it means to experience a spiritual life that is bigger than any one religion.
But this experience is just the beginning of Freeman’s unexpected journey. The Quest goes on to describe a vision quest he embarks on three years later in the solitary wilderness of northern New Mexico, as well as a follow-up bike trip to Wyoming, where he seeks out more life lessons from Great Thunder.
“Few are the books that teach us in a brief empowering read a path to discovering the wisdom we search a lifetime to find. Fewer are the books that challenge and enlighten us as they take us on a journey to the center of our soul. The Quest is such a book.”
– Billy Mills, Olympic 10k Champion
“I would be the first to recommend this book as required reading for all teachers, coaches, parents, and professional leaders. I read it three times!”
– Dr. Joe Vigil, U.S. Olympic Coach
“I just finished the Quest. Wow! It is truly beautiful. An intense journey of the heart!”
– Leslie Goldstein, College Administrator