Today was the big day! I woke up early and my family helped me pack the car and get ready to head out for 57 days on the road. I found a place to go pick up a 6 year chip and set out to Ocean Beach right after to dip my tire in the Pacific Ocean. I was very grateful to have my family and friends out to support me as I started this journey. I set out towards Alpine and got a little turned around in the beginning. Navigating a large city was tougher than I thought! I got turned around and ended up going to El Cajon by accident, and it took double the time I expected to arrive.
I found a family on a cycling hosting site (warmshowers.org) that offered to put us up. Little did I know what lie ahead. When I arrived at Jon Hueberger’s house he had a huge plate of spaghetti waiting for me loaded, with deer venison sausage and a hunk of garlic bread and a side of pork ribs! I ate furiously and was dead tired. I asked Jon what he did for a living and he proceeded to tell me he was in the ministry and had been for the last 9 years. He then went on to tell me his personal story, which involved spending nearly a decade in prison due to drugs and alcohol and the story of his last time using, which was incredible. He had been clean and sober for the last 9 years, and had joined the ministry where he met his wife (also sober, an amazing cook, and incredibly sweet).
Jon worked at what he referred to as the “Ranch,” which was a faith-based twelve-month program down the road from his home. He provided his personal testamony of how he got sober and stayed sober, which was different than from my experience, yet equally effective, and I was able to gain some new perspective. He asked if I wanted to go to the Ranch to speak to his guys and I couldn’t believe it! The next day he took me up on top of Mt Laguna and explained to me more about East County Transitional Living Center, which was the “Ranch”. He had gone through it nearly a decade ago as a broken man and now had a beautiful wife and four children, and has devoted his life to Jesus and helping other people with addiction. Being a self-proclaimed “speed freak,” he still likes excitement, and showed me videos of him spearfishing sharks, which was one of his many hobbies. He loves to hunt and provides all the meat for his family and the Ranch. Unk and I benefitted from it as well because they cooked us amazing meals the whole time we were with them.
I arrived at the Ranch and found it hosted over 50 men, farm animals, and a beautiful garden. They had the rooms set up with bunk beds, and an industrial kitchen. They provide services through contract jobs (such as welding, firewood delivery, and house painting) to fund the facility. After the 10:30 Bible Study I was able to talk to the guys and tell them my story. I talked about my recovery and the hand that God had played in my life. Some of the guys were really interested in going back to school, and I was able to give them some information afterwards and everyone was really supportive.
That afternoon it was time to head on to the next stop as I had extended my stay to speak at an “unexpected” stop in Alpine. Jon and his wife Erinn generously gave us some more food, a brand new camel pack for me to drink water from, and also a huge hunting knife, just in case. Unk and I were overwhelmed with their kindness and story and realized that they had set the bar high as far as families hosting us!