The Motley Fool chatted with Kyle Pounders in March about the food truck life, giving customers something they won't forget, and the weird places life can take you. This week, we check back in. Things haven't gone quite as planned for Kyle in the last eight months, and life's led him less toward music festivals and more to using his food truck for disaster relief.
In this special episode of Industry Focus: Tech, host Dylan Lewis and producer Dan Boyd interview Kyle about his journey across America, trekking from North Carolina to Florida to feed hurricane survivors, the FreeBurger Project, his awesome mom, and more.
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This video was recorded on Nov. 20, 2018.
Dylan Lewis: Hey, folks! Friday Tech show host Dylan Lewis here. Hope you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. We've got something special planned for this episode. If you'll remember, back in March, we did a bonus show from our time in Austin at SXSW. We profiled Kyle Pounders and his food truck Excaliburger. If you missed that show, it's in the archives from March 31st. We're also going to post a link to the episode in the show notes here.
Kyle's been on a cross-country road trip with his truck. Earlier this month, he stopped by Fool HQ. Dan Boyd and I couldn't resist the chance to get him in the studio and catch up. We felt like Kyle's story was the perfect show to air at a time when we're all trying to be a little bit more thankful and a little bit more charitable. Today, we're going to air that conversation.
I'm joined in studio by Dan Boyd, the man behind the glass for Market Foolery.
Dan Boyd: That's me!
Lewis: We're also joined by Kyle Pounders.
Boyd: The one and only!
Lewis: The one and only!
Kyle Pounders: Hello!
Lewis: [laughs] Kyle, you're a name that some of our listeners might recognize. We did a show that was a ton of fun on you back in March.
Pounders: In Austin, Texas. Here we are in Washington D.C.
Boyd: For the uninitiated, we were in Austin, Texas to do some coverage at SXSW. When I say "we," I mean Chris Hill, the host of Market Foolery and Motley Fool Money, Dylan Lewis and I. We were walking in East Austin one night, looking for a place to eat. We saw Kyle's food truck, we thought, "Hey, that's a cool name!" We walked past it, and then we smelled the smells coming from the food truck, and we were like, "OK, we're going to get food here." And that started our journey with Mr. Pounders here.
Pounders: If you're uninitiated, you should go initiate yourself.
Lewis: Yes. So, you've been frozen in that moment for our listeners. People that have been following you got that one look at you. The reality is, you were throwing out a lot of plans when we were talking. Do you want to give us a little bit of an update on what you've been up to over the past couple of months? You've been traveling all around.
Pounders: Yeah. I've followed through on some of those plans, and some have yet to come to fruition, but they will. My flamethrower turn signals are still coming.
Lewis: That's the biggest rift between us as friends. And we've turned into friends, which is kind of awesome!
Pounders: Yeah. So, you asked what's been going on. A lot. As I've been driving -- of course, only typing at stoplights -- I came up with the top 10 things that have happened. I'm just going to blow through those real quick. Then y'all can unpack which of those you would like to unpack.
Lewis: You're going to start with 10, right?
Pounders: They're in no particular order. They're in order of as they came to my mind, which I think actually worked out pretty well.
Lewis: Alright, let's hear it.
Pounders: One: literally, everything went wrong. Two: I'm a now also a fire truck. Three: three hurricanes. Four: we had a name change. Michael changed our name. Five: we're now friends.
Lewis: We're now friends.
Pounders: Six: I don't sell cheeseburgers anymore. Seven: coast to coast. Eight: I'm promoting the (unclear 3:46) bacon cooker. Nine: I drove to work with an umbrella today. 10: I've figured out where I'm taking this.
Boyd: There's a lot going on there.
Lewis: I'm going to try to hit this chronologically, to weave a nice story together here. I think where we start is, we've got you traveling quite a bit. Over the past couple of months, you've been traveling and going to a lot of places that a lot of people normally wouldn't want to go to.
Pounders: I've been coast to coast this summer.
Lewis: But you've been traveling --
Pounders: Cheeseburgers are great. I've been able to get in anywhere I want to get into. Like some wild places. We've been everywhere. We've done everything. I've had people jump on the truck for cross-country journeys with me. We talked about Anthony Bourdain the other night, just how much resonance he has, and the decisions that we've both made impacted on that. For me, he died since we met and since I saw you last. And I left to go on this journey, which is -- think about it. That's as Bourdain as you can get. I was just a kid who loved the show and was like, "I want that!" So I got a food truck, and just go travel, culture, cheeseburgers. It's just this weird thing, I just do one cheeseburger, but everybody's like, "Yeah, come on, in! I'll tell you my story. You can come set up at my gas station, barbershop, tattoo studio, skatepark, climbing gym, festival, whatever."
Lewis: The form of your Bourdain travel has been going across the country with the truck. I know you hit Denver, Pacific Northwest. You spent a lot of time going to a lot of awesome places. What I think is most remarkable about your past couple of months is, you were at this critical point a couple of months ago. You were going to be going to North Carolina. You were going to be going there for a music festival that you'd been invited to. You have a very popular friend in J. Cole, who hooks you up. And the plan was to go there, serve burgers, and be a part of that experience. And Hurricane Florence had another idea for that region at that time.
Pounders: It's very true. I left Seattle with only a matter of days to get to Little Rock, restock, clean, get what rest in that I could, and then make it to J. Cole's Dreamville. We've met. He's been on the truck. He seems to be a big fan. He had the burger and he wanted to come back for more, so he came over to my house. But we haven't really been in touch since then. But he did invite me out to his music festival, Dreamville. And we were supposed to do the food truck and then a separate VIP thing. And I was broke down in Seattle, and finally got everything fixed right on time to make it to North Carolina. And frantically, I'm traveling across the country, and get worried that this thing is now canceled. No more Dreamville, no more music festival.
I'm in the middle of the desert looking at the map. Like, "OK, radius from here to North Carolina puts me here." That's gone now. I can't even get in for a week because of the hurricane. So, where do I want to go? What do I want to do? I was in Idaho, Utah. I took that radius and I was like, "Man, I could go anywhere in the U.S. Do I want to go back to the Pacific Northwest? Maybe work down the Pacific Coast? Work down the coast of California? I could come to D.C., come see you guys, then go up to New York and do a Northern tour before it gets cold, see the fall times, beautiful here." But then I realized, the hurricane was more reason to go to North Carolina, not less reason to go to North Carolina.
I've got a real cool following, man! They're not huge, but they're freaking loyal! They get it, they get what I'm after. They get what I'm about. More than what I do, why I do it.
Lewis: I remember, we were texting back and forth right around the time you were making that decision. And you sent me this video. You're like, "I have an idea. I'm going to shoot this video."
Pounders: It wasn't finished. I had 80% done. Is that right?
Lewis: But the message was there. It was you, sitting in the middle of this salt flat --
Pounders: I was in the middle of the desert, in the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Lewis: And you're in a lawn chair, and the truck is way off in the distance, and you're explaining this whole thing.
Pounders: And I was making this video as Hurricane Florence was making landfall, which is very romantic in a tragic way, but just this weird play off of, there's more sun than I've ever seen in my life. I'm blinded. A salt flat. If I didn't have a way out of here, I'd be dead, because of too much sun, not enough water. But I'm there to raise money for this place that flooded out homes. And they're like, "What are we going to do?" They don't have flood insurance. That place hasn't flooded since we started taking records of weather. So, it was a very weird moment, raising money in a place like that for flood people. Then, a week later, I was there, I was in North Carolina. We raised $10,000. It wasn't just for burgers, it was diapers and water and feminine products, just basic human essential needs. I didn't really know what I was going to find when I got there, but I just felt the need to go.
And I get there and realize that the food truck actually makes a very fantastic disaster relief vehicle. The niche that I'm able to fill that most people are not able to fill is two parts. No. 1: I'm independent, meaning I'm not tied to any major organizations that say, "You have to go here, you have to go there." I can go where I want, go where I please. No. 2: it's a big truck, but it's pretty mobile. I can get where I need to go. I'm pretty daring with where it'll go. Taking chain saws and cutting in and delivering food to people that haven't had food in a long time. The bigger organizations are doing a killer job of keeping these towns fed, but there are old people that live in the country that haven't eaten. There are people of illegal status, and their children haven't eaten in four days. And they're scared to go to the drop-offs, because they're like, "If we go there, we're going to get deported." Which is a hot political issue right now, but in that moment, it doesn't really matter where your politics fall. There's a child that hasn't eaten in four days, and they need a hot meal. And I was able to go to these people that just weren't able to get out. I ended up doing Florence, and then later Michael.
Lewis: And it would have been easy for you at that point to be like, "I did this once, and I'm still kind of on the path that I was going to go. I can still go north to D.C., kick out to Detroit, and I won't be too far off of the itinerary I'd set."
Pounders: You had a front row seat to that. How many times did I say, "I'm coming to D.C.," then say, "I'm going to push back another week, I just found some more resources so I'm going to stick around here and help hurricane victims some more." And then you got a text message one night that was like, "Hey, these people in North Carolina that just lost everything packed my vehicle up and are sending me south to Florida, because apparently, there's Michael that's supposed to be hitting? Another big hurricane." And I go spend the night in Jacksonville. Left Jacksonville, Florida at 02:00 AM to head west. And I get to Hurricane Michael, and it was just more devastation.
The view from 30,000 feet of that is, I went to North Carolina to help hurricane victims. I exhausted all the resources. There's a point where you have to go start making regular money again. Otherwise, you become the one that needs help, which defeats the whole purpose. So, I hit that point. It was time to come up here, see you guys, start selling cheeseburgers again. And these people who had just lost everything packed up my food truck with everything that a hurricane victim needs, as they so well knew. And the people who just lost everything, that I was there to help, sent me to other people who needed help in Florida.
So, I get to Florida, and the exact same thing happens again. I go through all my resources, I get to the end of everything that I've got to give and have just a little bit left over, some seed money to get my business jump started up again so that I can be self-sufficient. And I'm about to leave. I stopped, actually, to take a couple of pictures on the side of the road. And Chef José Andrés, he's a Michelin award-winning chef.
Lewis: He's a huge presence here in D.C.
Pounders: Yeah, very big presence here in D.C. I haven't had time to watch TV, but I just learned recently that he was one of, if not the last, episode with Tony. They went out to Spain and did an episode with him. So it was very weird, full circle, that his people stopped on the side of the road as I'm taking pictures. They were like, "Hey, what's up? We've got this organization." I'm like, "I don't know." I don't want to go around serving cold, unsalted green beans to people. I'm not serving fillet, but I serve real food with real ingredients without a bunch of preservatives and stuff. These people, it's almost insulting to them, it's almost a kick when they're down to be like, "Here's a meal!" And they open it, people who just lost everything, and it's mystery meat with a mustard packet, and it's cold. And that happens a lot. And these guys come along. And I'd turned down like 16 organizations or something like that at this point that wanted me to come help them. But they said, "No, we're chefs." And I was like, "Oh, OK. Tell me more. I probably still won't like you, but..." They said, "No, we're chefs. We cook meals from scratch, and we use real, whole ingredients, and we feed lots of people, and the meals are hot, and the water's cold. We're not just nourishing stomachs, we're also nourishing souls." And I said, "Who do you go to?" And they were like, "Who do you think it's important to go to? You can go to them."
Lewis: So Kyle's been doing just that, but he hasn't been doing it alone.
Boyd: When you say "we," in your in your truck, who do you mean?
Pounders: World Central Kitchen. I've had a couple of people jump on and off the truck, or I've got this organization I was working with. Which one were you interested in?
Boyd: Either or.
Pounders: I've had a ton of friends jump on and off. That's kind of what this truck is about. It's the people. It's mine, and I'm particular about some things, but it's also freeform in a lot of ways. Sierra worked at the coffee shop down the road, and we connected and started hanging out and got along really well. At the end, she just quit her job and jumped on the truck, and we went cross-country together. She was supposed to come help me with a music festival, but of course, that got cancelled, so she jumped on, and we were doing relief together. I had some friends come down from this area, one from Virginia, one from Maryland. They came to help with relief work. And then the people we connected with in Havelock, North Carolina, to start sending people. So, yeah, I'm a one-man-show traveling across the country, but don't think I'm a one-man-show because it's a rotating cast.
Boyd: A cast of old regulars come to help you out.
Pounders: Old regulars, old friends, new friends, strangers, someone that just needs $20, and I'm like, "I'm not going to give you $20, but if you jump on the truck, I'll pay you a little bit to work for me."
Boyd: That's really cool. Let's move over. I have a question about his list of 10, if I can go ahead.
Lewis: Go for it!
Boyd: You don't sell cheeseburgers anymore?
Boyd: That seems like an odd thing for a guy who runs a cheeseburger food truck to say so. Would you mind explaining what you mean when you say you don't sell cheeseburgers anymore?
Pounders: Never fear, we still do cheeseburgers. But they're not for sale. They're now for free. It's a direct carryover from a bunch of loose pieces that were left over after the hurricane. I was blown away -- hurricane joke not intended -- by how generous these people were. People that just lost everything, people that had their homes shifted off of their foundation and scooted 40 feet, and when the hurricane was done, their house was sitting in the middle of the road. They had to figure out, "How are we going to get this house out of the road?" But those people are being kind, and giving their resources, and being like, "Hey, this cheeseburger was really cool. Thank you for it! I want to make sure that the next guy has the opportunity to feel what it feels like for someone to walk up to him and hand him a cheeseburger. That felt really good. I want to pass that down the road. Where you headed next? I want someone down there to know what it's like to be like, 'Hey, man, you want a cheeseburger?' 'I can pay for my own cheeseburger.' 'I know, but, here, free cheeseburger. Someone bought your dinner for you.'"
They didn't put the format to it. I added that. But the sentiment, over and over and over ... it came from strangers walking up to me, because I got put on the news some down there, so some people knew my face. And they'd just walk up to me and hand me money. Rarely less than a $20 bill. I pulled over to the side of the road to wait for Sierra, who was behind me, and another guy pulls over behind me, and this dude didn't seem to have money. And he hands me $100. And he was like, "Hey, man! I hope I get one of your cheeseburgers. I don't know if I'll be able to catch you when you're open or not. But I appreciate what you're doing for my community, and I want to make sure the next community that's affected in a negative way that you want to help, that you're able to help them." What do you say? "Hey, thanks, man!"
Boyd: So, instead of selling cheeseburgers, you're allowing other people to buy cheeseburgers for somebody else.
Pounders: Yes. Which already kind of happened. These people down in North Carolina and Florida were so thankful that they started buying cheeseburgers for whoever the next random person was going to be. I had to come up here to D.C. Not that I had to, I'm glad to be here. But I still had free cheeseburgers leftover, about 100. I was like, what do I do with these? I threw a couple in the pot of my own accord, just to get it up to a nice, clean number. We started with 100 cheeseburgers, and I've started a little marble-in-the-jar system. At the end of the night, we'll count up the tip jar. We'll round off. I don't have a 501(c)(3). This is not a nonprofit. On one side, business always has to be cutthroat and for money, etc. On the other side, it's like, if you have a nonprofit, your donors pay for everything. What about in the middle? Just a business that's for profit, but also does good?
Boyd: Do you call this a business? Or is this more of an experiment?
Pounders: It's the FreeBurger Project, is what I call it. freecheeseburgers.com is the other way. We'll count the tip jar at the end of the night. freecheeseburgers.com sets it up for potential success. I don't know where it's going to go. I've got my hopes. I really want to see this succeed. But it's a project in that it's an objective. I set it up with 100 cheeseburgers that every cheeseburger I give away takes it down one, and every time I get $10, it takes it up one. We'll just see how long it lasts. Whenever we got down to zero, it's going to go into hibernation, and freecheeseburgers.com is going to stay up. And if that number ever gets above 100 -- at some point, that number may change -- it'll pull out of hibernation. And the premise is, whoever walks up to the truck gets a cheeseburger, whether they can afford it or not.
Lewis: I think a lot of people might hear this and say, "This is pay it forward, but it's just people that can pay paying it forward." What I experienced firsthand, and what I think is so wonderful about what you're trying to do here, is you were set up at a brewery in Falls Church on Saturday. We went out there, a bunch of Fools went out there, some of my friends went out.
Pounders: Is that what you refer to yourself as? "A bunch of Fools?" Anybody in the office?
Lewis: Yeah, that's our in-house employee thing. Fool.
Boyd: Not just anybody in the office, but the people that buy into our investing milieu, the lifestyle of being a Fool. That can be employees here, or that can be people that listen to the shows. It can be anybody.
Pounders: Oh, OK, it includes your fanbase. They can be part of the Fools.
Lewis: The people listening right now are Fools.
Pounders: OK. I've got my own network, as well. They're referred to as The Cowncil.
Lewis: [laughs] Oh, that's good!
Boyd: Dylan, because cows.
Lewis: Right. Oh, the burgers. That's where that comes from.
Pounders: It's a step down. I don't want to call my members cows. So, yeah, the Fools came out?
Lewis: The Fools came out, we come out on Saturday. We had a great time. I was very happy to give you a little bit more than $10 for the burger that I had, because I love the system. I love what you're doing. As a case in point for why this is a wonderful thing, not 10 minutes after I ordered my food, a guy walks up to the truck, broken arm, not in great shape. You ask him what he wants. And he asks for a burger. You bump him to the top of line. You hand him a burger and he goes on his way. That doesn't happen otherwise. That doesn't happen if everyone is just paying for their own burger.
Boyd: It looked like a laborer, like the fellow's got to use his body for his work. And with a broken arm, that can be real hard to do.
Pounders: He looks like he was hurt but he couldn't stop working. Like he'd just spent a long day at work. He looked like a painter or some type of mechanic or something like that who was at 40%. I probably would have given him a cheeseburger anyways, but this just kind of gives it some legs.
Lewis: This idea that you have, you mentioned that the FreeBurger Project is a combination of a lot of different things. It's experience that you had out on the road, but it's also the influence of some people that work in the food truck space that you met on the road, too.
Pounders: The FreeBurger Project is kind of my utopia. I don't like selling cheeseburgers. I'd rather just cook food and give it away. It's this thing that I'm setting up, I'm not too tied to it, to where I'm going to be a dead man because of it. But I've been playing with the idea for a long time. When I got to Craven County, North Carolina, I went to Havelock, but I went through New Bern to get there. I did relief work, went to Florida. When I got back, I got to know a food truck in the adjacent town to Havelock, New Bern, called The Tiny Tornado. Becky, the owner of it, had been doing the exact same thing that I had been doing, hell and high water to get out and just get food in people's bellies. She'd wake up, and the bakery started dropping off bags of bread to give to her. And other people were like, "Here's all this food. Here's money," all over the place. The exact same story that happened to me was happening 20 miles away. Also, same hurricane, same exact time, and almost the same place.
When I went to Florida, she went and got a 501(c)(3), and now gives food away as The Tiny Tornado. She's doing a high-quality job. She's doing great meals and feeding people. It's not just for poor people. It's a food truck that you can just come, eat, have food. And I was like, wow, I've played with this idea. I would love to just be able to do this. But that's terrifying. Like, there's no way that I could actually do exactly what it is that I want to do and invest at, which is just like, I'm just going to give you some food and encourage you. I'm just gonna love you a little bit. There's no way that it could ever be that good. And she's like, "Just give it a shot!"
Lewis: She was that form of encouragement that you needed.
Pounders: Yeah. Coming from someone who had, like I said, done exactly what I had done, then taking it a step further to what I really, really wanted to do. So, I was like, cool, what's the worst that happens? You give it a shot, and it doesn't work. And you keep going. I can always go back to selling cheeseburgers. This is America.
Lewis: Another form of support they've gotten on the road that I want to give some airtime to, because I think it's important to love your mothers, is your mom.
Pounders: Love your mothers! The madre. Dude, if anyone has ever enjoyed an Excaliburger, and you have the good fortune to meet my mom, you should tell her thank you.
Lewis: I had the treat of meeting your mom. We went out to dinner in Old Town Alexandria.
Pounders: She's the reason that you've ever had an Excaliburger. Without that core piece, you never would have eaten one.
Lewis: And I was thrilled to thank her personally.
Pounders: She kills it on the truck. She's my mom. I'm a fierce, hardworking, independent person. But dude, when she gets around? Momma's boy, full mode! And it's hard to run a business like that. I'm promoting her to bacon cook. She's so good at cooking bacon. I don't know what it is. I do my best, but the bacon's always better when she makes it. She's always trying to help. And I'm so in my head. I've got a thousand things. I'm making decisions. She's always been the one that will come in and make everything better and help make decisions for me and whatever. It's terrible for business to have Mom there, trying so hard to be helpful but taking it a little too far. It's like, yeah, I just want you to help with things. It's like, nope! Sorry! Cook the bacon and I just want you to hang out. At this point in Excaliburger, we're to the point where she can just enjoy kicking it and just sit back and watch me and be proud. I'm going to take the extra measure to make sure that I don't depend on her. Like, Mom, come bail me out, come work that truck with me. No. This is a promotion for her, because by her being the all-time bacon cook, she gets the freedom of enjoying a son who's fully independent, who can take care of himself and doesn't need Mom to help get him out. But I also need that, because otherwise I would just exist in this...
Lewis: I think about the same relationship that I have with my mom. Granted, we don't work together on a food truck. But we go back and forth like that. And it comes from a place of love. That is her wanting you to live your best life and for the food truck to be successful. I could see how that might be a little bit tough in tight quarters, though.
Pounders: Yeah. Who else, for your entire life has served like that, then take care of you? I'm trying to be this big tough food truck rock star, and I'm like, "Thanks, Mom!"
Lewis: [laughs] And she was sweet. I'm glad that I got to meet her.
Pounders: She's so sweet! I love having her around!
Lewis: I think the natural question that a lot of people have is, the FreeBurger Project is in full force. We're going to see how long it goes for. But you're a man with a lot of ideas. You're a man with a lot of plans. What's next? Both in terms of travel and in terms of big picture stuff. The food truck, for you.
Pounders: We could spend a long time on that question.
Lewis: Give me the bullet points.
Pounders: I'm going to spend a little more time here in the general area. Detroit, I'm doing a snowboard competition in town. I'll be the only food truck there. That'll be pretty cool.
Lewis: That'll be an indoor snowboarding competition?
Pounders: I don't know if it's indoor or outdoor. It's in the city, though.
Lewis: OK. It seems kind of early for snowboarding.
Pounders: It's manufactured snow. It's going to be built. I don't know that much about it, but it should be pretty cool. Santa Crawl 2018.
Lewis: Where's that?
Pounders: Little Rock. Maybe LA before the holidays. But I'll be home for the holidays and rest, recoup. The truck is tired. There's a lot of band aids on that thing that need to be ripped off.
Boyd: I noticed that the name has changed on one side of the truck from Excaliburger to Excaliurge.
Pounder: Yeah, Michael ripped a few letters off. The B and the R fell off.
Lewis: Excaliurge is the best way that those letters could have possibly fallen off.
Pounder: I've gone through every possible Scrabble combination that you could. The B and the second R are the two most perfect letters that could have ever fallen off.
Lewis: It's like one of those flickering hotel lights that's missing one letter and becomes something ridiculously funny. Except for you, it happens to just fit your business anyways. Dan, you still have some questions?
Boyd: It's been eight months since we last had you on the show.
Pounders: Has it been that long?
Boyd: It was March and now it's November. I'm curious, you've managed to achieve quite a bit in the time with relief efforts. I have to imagine that you've not only learned a lot about people, but a lot about running your own business in that eight months. If there's anything that stands out from that of the lessons you've learned, I'd love to hear about it.
Pounders: There's a quote, remember Green Street Hooligans?
Boyd: It's an Elijah Wood movie, right?
Pounders: Yeah! And there's a line where he gets in a fight. He's like, "Man, something happens when you get punched the first time and you realize you're not made of glass." Your perspective changes. I've stopped telling people what I'm going to do a lot of the times. Everyone starts in with, "What if this goes wrong? What if that goes wrong?" Literally, everything that was proposed, like, you can't take this trip coast to coast, because what if this or that? And literally everything that people proposed went actually wrong. It actually came to pass. It happened. And you know what? It's fine. Who are you interviewing right now? Are you interviewing me? Or those people that said that I couldn't do it?
Boyd: It's a good point!
Pounders: That was really cocky. [laughs]
Lewis: It was a good point. It reminded me of the first time that we walked up to you, we were chatting, I think we asked you something about how you got into food truck business, or something about the brand name, something like that. And you were like, "Well, you guys were here yesterday, and now you're back with a microphone, so I think I'm doing something right."
Pounders: Yeah. But just do it. Whenever I first got started, you might not have come back for the burgers. You probably wouldn't have. But that's why before I even put the name Excaliburger on the side, I was down there selling to the factories for six months to figure out what in the world I was doing. You have to stair-step it. But man, get out there and do it! Figure out what the dream is and take the smallest step toward that as you possibly can. Any action at all. That's the hardest part. The hardest journey I've taken so far was to the end of the driveway. It was really hard for me to leave, to head to Denver and then Utah and Wyoming and Seattle. That's everywhere I wanted to be, everything I wanted to be doing my whole life, I've been building toward this grand moment, and I couldn't leave the damn driveway. Just act, man! Go do it! The worst-case scenario is really not that bad. You're going to be OK, whatever it is.
Lewis: When you have people that travel a lot, there's this culture of the travel social media, the travel influencer, the vloggers that are living out of a van or something like that and posting regularly --
Pounders: The 22-year-old influencers.
Lewis: Yes. And it's easy to get swept up in that lifestyle. I most definitely live vicariously through you as your friend. I want to know, one, one of the coolest non-food-truck related moments that you've had traveling around; and two, one of the worst moments of being on the road for that long, and what could go wrong actually going wrong. Give me both sides of the coin. Give me what is great about this experience. Maybe you spent some time camping at a national park or something like that. And then give me when a plan just didn't work.
Pounders: The people I met. They're all so connected. The times that it went wrong are the times that -- I was on the side of the road, frustrated about some stuff. I was up really high. The truck's been over 10,000 feet at this point. I was out in Wyoming. I'd been doing the International Climbers Festival. Rock climbing is something I gave up to start the truck. So, I was like, OK, I'm going to get into these lost loves. So, I did the Climber's Festival. It's toward the end. I'm sitting on the side of the road, way up high elevation. And this little ATV, the ATV with the bucket seats, you sit in, buckle up, they come rolling by. He's like, "Hey, can I get a taco?" I was like, haha. I was like, "Hey, you guys have an extra seat?" He said, "Yeah, come on, jump in! You have any food right now?" And I was like, "It's not hot, but I'll cook for you when we get back." He's like, "Alright, cool!" And I jump in. I left a note saying that I ran out of gas, which I really didn't.
We went on this ride through land that I never could have had access to. We never could go over the hill and through the woods and creeks and muds. It's stuff I'm used to back in Arkansas, but I didn't think I was going to get that opportunity in rural Wyoming. It was just like, cool. I know you're not supposed to take a food truck up over a mountain pass, but I'm in the mountains! I want to see stuff! Just ask the question, what's the worst-case? He'd say no, it's fine. He wasn't going to pull out a gun and shoot me for asking if I could jump on his ATV.
Lewis: I think you just managed to give me the whole coin. I asked for both sides of it. I asked for a good thing and a bad thing. You just gave me that one experience and it embodied both of them.
Pounders: I also had a wheel fall off at a roundabout in a town I didn't know anybody in just outside of Seattle, Washington during 05:00 PM traffic. What do you do? There's a whole story there, but whatever. It's fine. It ended up OK. And it was really bad. It was fine, you just push through it.
Lewis: You still made it to D.C.
Pounders: I still made it to D.C.
Boyd: Still in one piece.
Pounders: Managed to help Florence and Michael at the same time. It's fine. You'll be OK. Make the best decisions you can and love people well.
Boyd: If that's not the best way to end this episode, I don't know what it is. Make the best decisions you can and love people well. That's really nice!
Pounders: And in the middle of loving people well, if something goes wrong, those people are going to help you get to where you're going next. That's happened over and over again.
Lewis: Kyle's currently in Chico, California helping with relief efforts for people affected by the wildfires. The FreeBurger Project currently needs more money to keep the pay it forward system going. If you want to help Kyle love people well, go to freecheeseburgers.com, or you can send Kyle money on the Venmo or Cash app @FreeCheeseburgers. Also, if you're interested in supporting relief efforts across the country, you can donate to the American Red Cross on their website redcross.org, or All Hands and Hearts, an organization The Fool works with for a lot of our Foolanthropy campaigns.
Listeners, wherever you are, I hope you and your family are safe. Next week we'll be getting back on track with our regular schedule and programming. Special thanks to Austin Morgan and Dan Boyd for all their help putting this episode together. Until next time, Fool on!
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