Rocky Mtn. National Park

In Nederland, CO:

(This story is kind of long, but hang with me until the end. It was a long riding day!)

July 3, 2016 

I was dreaming. I was a marble rolling down a hallway. The hallway was carpeted maroon and purple, a floral swirl, yet there was a track down the middle for the marble – me – to roll on. I rolled faster between closed doors, trying to reach the end of the hallway where a mirror glinted. Suddenly, I gasped for air and surfaced, waking up, thankfully, still in Winter Park.

Day 6 of our trip was mostly not spent in Winter Park, CO at all. We were still based there, but our destination that day was the town of Estes Park. Still kind of bleary-eyed from that weird dream, I started the day having free breakfast at the hotel with Hal, then we geared up and rode across the street to air up our tires. The elevation and temperature changes, I supposed, had changed what tire pressure I’d started with, so we checked to be sure. That experience turned into an ordeal that included a gas station too crowded with vacationers, a giant fuel-delivery truck that took up most of it, a stupid air pump that wanted 25¢ every 30 seconds it seemed (who would have thought a few years ago that people would have to pay for air for their tires???), and a tire gauge that wouldn’t read correctly. Despite all that, we finally got on the road with somewhat accurate air pressure in the tires.

We took Highway 40 again, but this time through Fraser and Granby. I saw “in person” all the places I had looked at from home with Google Maps. I remembered them from those evenings of planning, trying to find a place to stay, and was glad once again that we had ended up in Winter Park! Everything along the road looked extremely crowded, and that was because of the holiday weekend. This condition would plague us for the rest of the day. We took the 40 to Hwy. 34.

What we didn’t quite realize, I guess, is that 34 went directly into Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was the only route to Estes Park. There was no turning back. At the gate we were charged $20 for EACH bike and rider. In my opinion, that was extreme price gouging, especially since we really didn’t want to go into the park on a holiday weekend in the first place. Yet there we were, and we were doing it.

The road started climbing right away, but gradually. The trees were beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and I put behind me the feeling of being fleeced at the park entrance. However, as we climbed, the traffic seemed to increase as we went up, with people in cars and trucks going more and more slowly in front of us. Soon, we were in an unbreakable chain of traffic.

The road grew steeper, and the switchbacks increased. Every single pullout or parking lot was jammed with traffic, and we didn’t dare pull over. I got ZERO photographs in the park because of this. Soon, I looked up and saw that we were climbing even more steeply into the alpine environment above the tree line. There was a steep switchback that we had to ride at about 5 mph, and up on the top, the wind was blowing hard. I started to worry about keeping my momentum, and keeping the bike balanced in the strong wind. Between my bike and me, we weren’t very heavy, so the wind was pretty much having its way with us. I was creeping along on exposed roadway, hanging on the side of the mountains, the wind blowing hard and cold. I didn’t see much except the back of Hal’s bike in front of me, but I saw enough to know that the bottom was V-E-R-Y far down. I was glad I had thought to wear layers of clothing under my riding gear. I saw other riders who were wearing thin t-shirts, and knew they were probably freezing!

I didn’t see much of the natural beauty, either, since I had to concentrate so much on riding, watching for people to do stupid things like suddenly pull over, or stop, or pull out into traffic without waiting. At one point, there were some caribou just laying there, relaxing at the side of the road! The traffic in the lane going in the opposite direction was completely stopped because one inconsiderate person HAD to stop to get a photo (with his phone, of course). I had time to glance for an instant at the amazing animals, but that was all. I didn’t get to enjoy their wild beauty.

I never had to put my feet down and stop, but we continued to inch along. I realized we were finally descending, but we were still hanging on the sides of mountains with steep drop-offs and no guardrails. Get me out of here, I thought. I was tired of having to be so ultra-aware of my riding, worrying about keeping the bike upright, and just generally tired of being in a huge f-ing crowd. Pedestrians kept running in and out of traffic, and I really had to watch what I was doing. Finally, we got back down into the trees, the road split, and it felt like the traffic eased a little. We were still going down.

After a few miles, we passed the gate on the other end of the park. Bend over, I thought to myself as I saw other riders in the line. And that line! It went on literally for about eight miles. We were finally getting to Estes Park, we had seen it far below when we were on top on this side of the mountain, but traffic was a nightmare.

We had thoughts of finding a coffee shop in Estes Park, I had visions of a charming little town with cool places to take a break, but I was wrong. Traffic was an angry snarl, and all I really saw were the backs of cars. At one point, we had to get over into the right hand lane, and I had to put my motorcycle between Hal and a car so he could get over. There were just too many people, and there was absolutely no opportunity to find a place to stop. So much for Estes Park. Later, we both said we never wanted to go there again even though we had once thought being there would be a highlight of the trip.

At last, we eased out of town, and there were more twisty (and busy) roads to negotiate. It would have been fun except for the “crowded-ness,” and we rode many miles through varying terrain. Yet in all those miles after Estes Park, there were no coffee shops to pull into, and it was getting very warm. I still had all my layers on, and I had been riding non-stop for about five hours.

Fatigue was setting in as we finally came to a little place called Nederland, which was, of course, crowded. We ended up in a crazy, uneven dirt parking lot where, after a couple of laps, I amazingly found a wedge of space in which to park. I waved Hal in behind me. Breathing a sigh of relief, I eyed a coffee/sandwich shop where I could finally get some refreshment! Hal, however, had other ideas.

Hal insisted on going into a Nepalese restaurant. It was literally the very last place I wanted to go, but that is where we went. I tried to get something normal (read: “not spicy or exceptionally greasy”) and appropriate to fuel my hunger, like French fries, but I couldn’t seem to get anyone to bring some, even after I thought that I ordered them. Hal ate a huge buffet lunch. I was so overheated that I almost threw up just thinking about it. I did manage to get a cup of coffee just because I needed caffeine, I don’t even remember where at this point, and I eventually pulled a Clif bar out of my side case. Good thing, by then I was shaking and needed to eat. I drank a ton of water, too. It was NOT relaxing at all to sit there amid the dust of the parking lot, in the sun, on a rock or piece of concrete or whatever it was, and chew on that Clif bar. I was grateful that I’d packed it, though.

But wait, there’s more. We got out of the crazy crowded town of Nederland, thought we were done with extreme travel situations, but we rode through a town called Central City that had streets that either went straight up or straight down. Like, 8 or 10 percent grades. Plus, we got stuck behind a tour bus, couldn’t see around it to find the right street on which to turn, almost got in trouble and had to go back the way we’d come (impossible), but luckily I spotted another route that gave us a quick escape.

I was thinking by then that the motorcycle gods were completely throwing every single weird situation at me that day just to see if I were worthy of being a true “adventure” rider! There was one more situation – a gas station that was all catty-wompus (is that how you spell that??), and was not in any way shape or form an easy in and out. –sigh- By the time I got on the Interstate, I was kind of done with all the juking around. I still felt elated, though, because I MADE IT.

Riding down Hwy. 40, I was struck by the feeling of déjà vu as we rode the same route we’d taken two days earlier to reach Winter Park. As we rode back into Winter Park, closing the loop of the day’s ride, I felt content, loving the clouds and the cool temperatures. We pulled into the hotel parking lot, tired but happy.

Before we walked to dinner, Hal and I thought we deserved a soak in the hotel’s jacuzzi. We were lucky, no one else was in the pool area, and we were able to totally relax in the hot water without nine million people around. Then we went to dinner at the Smokehouse, a BBQ place. They had “burnt ends” which were charred and crusty on the outside and tender and meaty on the inside, all dipped in wonderful BBQ sauce. Heavenly. I tried to restrain myself, but between that and a huge salad, I ate more than I should have. I was so hungry from earlier in the day that I couldn’t help it.

Along Vasquez Creek:

But, no worries, we walked up and down the main street of Winter Park, this time for the last time of the trip. We stopped at the bridge over Vasquez Creek with its bottom of black and brown and gold “babyheads,” the water rushing and plunging, polishing the stones with its white water. We decided again that we love Winter Park, as if we didn’t already know, and definitely will return someday.

Tomorrow we ride to Taos! I thought.

I sank into sleep, and dreamed of the purple/golden sunset I had witnessed the last time I was in Taos, NM. Between the purple of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the golden grasses of the Taos Plateau, I looked forward to soon being folded into that familiar embrace.

 

A day at the Racetrack

Day 4, Death Valley, March 15, 2016

Our day started at Gema’s Café again. We ran into the same couple that we had seen yesterday, another moto riding team. We were all waiting for tables, and when Hal and I were called first, I asked them to join us. We had a nice breakfast and conversation together. Tiana just started riding a year ago. Yet, she rides a big H-D, and has ridden 17,000 miles in the last year! Her partner has an Indian, and a few other bikes, and he rides with Tiana most of the time. It was nice to meet another female motorcyclist who rides many miles. She is very courageous because she will ride alone. I am not too keen on that, especially after the car accident, and I am always grateful for Hal’s company.

As a result of a too-long (but nice) breakfast, Hal and I left late from Beatty. We were on our dirt bikes, of course, headed toward “The Racetrack.” It was going to be a full riding day.

We rode down Daylight Pass, across the floor of Death Valley, then north to Ubehebe Crater, about 67 miles. It was a long time to be riding dirt bikes on pavement. Finally, we got to the black, deep cinder surface of Racetrack Rd., and since my tires were aired up for pavement, I felt almost like I was out of control! “Hey, I’ve got to air down now!” I said urgently over the intercom.

“Sure, we’ll find a place to pull over up here somewhere,” Hal answered.

On Racetrack Road:

“Uh, hopefully before I go down!” I said. It really was crazy trying to ride with too much pressure in the tires on that loose, deep volcanic surface. Quickly, we pulled over to the side of the road and aired down to avert any drama. The road soon became “corrugated” as well, and I was glad that the suspension was working on the KLX! The suspension worked best when we were at speed, floating over the top of the surface.

Empty playa:

When Hal and I got to the playa that is the Racetrack, we were dismayed to find that most of the rocks had been stolen! People take the rocks for their “mystical quality.” I think I saw one rock of any measureable size out on the playa. It is very selfish for people to do this, now no one else can enjoy the rocks, see the evidence of an amazing natural phenomenon. Besides, once the rocks have been removed from the playa, they no longer have meaning. I was glad Hal and I had been there two years ago to see more of the “moving rocks.”

The playa two years ago:

Hal and I took a break at the edge of the playa, drank some water and had an energy bar, then got on the bikes and turned back toward Teakettle Junction. We took a couple of photos, and then a guy in a jeep pulled up. His jeep said “Jeep Kitchens,” and we discovered that his company makes camp kitchens that are made to fit into the back of jeeps.

Hal at Teakettle Junction. Al’s Jeep Kitchens jeep in the background:

We talked for a little while with Al, and found out that he is going to be at Overland Expo, held in Flagstaff, Arizona, in May. Perhaps we will see him there then! (We did!)

We ended our conversation with Al, then rode back to the crater. By then, I was getting my second wave of energy after feeling really tired.

The amazing crater:

My dusty pants and boots:

Hal airing up his tires:

We took a break in the tourist parking lot, listened to many languages being spoken, aired up our tires, looked over the edge at the deep crater, then headed back on the long paved stretch of road to Beatty.

That evening, after we’d cleaned up a bit and put the bikes up for the night, we walked over to Mama Sara’s for dinner, a local restaurant that serves amazingly delicious fajitas. We marked our last night on the road, at least for a while, by toasting our adventures with a glass of wine, and hoped that our next trip wouldn’t be too far in the future.

Next: Going home

Car crash diary, part 2

No photo, just blackness.

**

The immediate aftermath:

I do remember actually seeing the airbag receding, the smoke from the gunpowder twisting in the air as it dissipated. I closed my eyes. My upper lip was numb, and my upper teeth hurt. There was darkness, and I went somewhere inside my mind into a sort of semi-conscious state. My first thought was how could you DO this to me?? directed at no one in particular, just the universe. I was aware at once of all the implications. I was not breathing. Breathe, I told myself. I had that shock-y feeling when little light tracers twirled inside my eyelids. Breathe. I never thought I was hurt, but I was aware that the shock of the impact was having some kind of effect.

The next thing I was aware of was the sound of Desmond screaming. I didn’t know if he was in shock, or if he was hurt. I reached down into the center console, in front of the transmission shift lever, to get my phone. I slowly dialed 9-1-1. I must have lost consciousness for a few seconds because I knew that some time passed, but when I looked down again the phone was still in my hand. I was going to hit the “send” button, but I already heard the wailing of sirens. I have always hated when I’ve had some kind of problem, like crashing on the mountain bike, or falling off a swing when I was a kid, and would always get up and carry on as if nothing had happened. I think if no one sees it, it didn’t happen. This time, there was no avoiding it, other people were going to have to help me. Oddly, for me, I didn’t mind this time. I needed help.

I am not sure in what order things happened next, but I know my husband seemed to be okay, to my relief. That was another thing I thought of, how with his neck that hurts to begin with, he did not need this collision on top of everything else. Desmond got out of the car at some point, and tried to open my door. It was jammed. I didn’t mind, I wanted to sit there and not move for a while longer. I needed to get myself together. I heard him telling the EMTs that I should get looked at, that he thought I had lost consciousness.

I heard someone come up to the door and ask “Is she okay?” I don’t remember if I responded or not. The door was going to have to be pried open. I looked through the cracked windshield and I saw the hood was folded up and I could not see past the windshield. All around me were broken pieces of plastic; I was sitting in wreckage. My beautiful little car. Desmond opened the passenger door and tried to pull the key out of the ignition because the “door open” bell kept dinging. He couldn’t get the key out to stop it. I told him I was okay.

Finally, the firemen pried the door open. It seemed to me that it didn’t take much to open it, I thought the door was just stuck a little bit. When the door was opened, the EMT asked me if I was okay and I said “yes, I just need a moment.” I think he said something like “all you have to worry about now is what color your new car is going to be.” I didn’t know why he was saying that, of course I would get my Sonata fixed. It’s a nice car, I thought, and I like it. A little front end damage, but it will be fine.

I sat there for a while with the door open, and then a police officer came over. He asked me politely for my driver’s license, and I said, “it’s in the backpack, behind my seat.” He took the backpack out and I told him to unzip the main section and get the wallet out. “It’s black with pink flamingoes on it,” I told him. I am sure he had already run my plates and knew that I had a clean record that goes back to 1980 when I was first licensed in this state. The officer was very polite during the whole thing. He was even apologetic that he had to ask if I was impaired. He said, “I can see that you are not, but I have to ask.” I also directed him to where the insurance card was in the glove box. That was almost all the interaction I had with the police during the entire ordeal. The policeman left, and an EMT took his place next to me at the open car door.

“Have you tried to get out and walk yet?” asked the EMT.

“No,” I answered.

“Well, let’s try now,” he said. My seat belt was still buckled, but the strap was hanging loosely now. The EMT reached across me to help unbuckle the belt. I seemed to be moving in slow motion. Once he released the seatbelt, I twisted slowly in the seat, then he gave me his hand to help me out. I really had no doubt that I was okay, but I was a little shaky, kind of shock-y as well. I stood up slowly and took a tentative step. I thought I saw people clap in the gathered crowd at the edge of the road but I could have imagined it. As if this were some kind of show for their entertainment.

My right foot hurt a little, but I probably had so much adrenaline coursing through my body that I didn’t feel like anything else was wrong. I had the presence of mind to reach into the backseat floor area and grab my backpack and an envelope that I had needed to mail but didn’t because the mail store (our first stop that day) had just closed. While in the backseat, I saw the center console armrest had fallen open, and that my glasses, which I had been wearing, were back there. They had probably flown off when the air bag deployed. I retrieved them.

The EMT led me around the back of the car, and in the dark, I did not see the damage to my car. We were walking toward the ambulance so I could ride in the front seat. Desmond wanted to get checked out in the ER, but he did not want to leave me at the accident scene. I was so thankful for him watching out for me. I am afraid of doctors and hospitals, so I wasn’t going to get checked out. I keep myself to myself, I thought.

When I finally made it to the front seat of the ambulance, I climbed in. The officer came running up and handed my license and insurance card back to me. How had this happened, anyway? I asked myself again, something I would ask myself over and over in the coming weeks.

As the ambulance moved away from the accident scene, I looked over at the other car. It was wrecked. I asked the EMT if the person was hurt and he said, “No, she’s fine, just got jostled around more than you did.” I was relieved that the person wasn’t hurt.

I thought the cops would probably come and talk to me at the hospital later if they needed to. After all, they knew where I was and that I wasn’t going anywhere else for a while. But no officer ever talked to me again that evening, and the next conversation I had with PD was the next week, and that was because I called them myself.

It was full-on dark now, and I was quiet during the ride to the hospital. I walked with Desmond to the ER they put us in. I was worried about everything. Later, we would compare notes and find that we saw – or didn’t see – the same thing. That other car had come out of nowhere, its headlights had suddenly appeared directly in front of my car, when there was no time to react and prevent the accident. How was that possible? We’d both looked at the road, I know I looked twice, and there were NO cars coming. What had happened??? The question rang in my head, reverberating forever after.

Meanwhile, in the ER, I stood next to Des while he was treated for a burn to his arm from the airbag deploying. He was x-rayed, and had a CT scan. My brother-in-law turned up after a while to give us a ride home, and hours after the accident, we finally got home. As Pat parked his truck and we crawled painfully out, it hit me that my car might never come home again.

The Christmas lights that we’d hung so happily that morning were lit, an ironic, and painful, reminder that I would not be able to enjoy anything for a very long time.

Car crash diary, part 1

“It’s so beautiful …” (little did I know)

I haven’t written this blog for a long time, and I am sorry about that. I was involved in a head-on car collision last December 5, and it’s been difficult to get back to normal after that. No physical injuries to speak of, just bruises from the airbag, and also from the entire front end of the car moving back and crashing into my legs, but mostly psychological effects that I will never get over.

It’s been suggested that I tell the story here, so I will, but not a long-drawn out story as I’d first thought of. I am seriously done thinking about it, but I will never get over the loss of my car (irreplaceable), or the loss of trust in how things “should” work. I am still not driving, and it will be a while before I can. Every time I am in a car, I am cringing, waiting for a crash that I hope I will never have to experience again.

Here is the beginning of the story. I will spend a few days on it, but then I am moving on. I have a fun Death Valley dirt riding trip to write about, and that is way more appealing to me than thinking about this horrible crash – again.

**

“Trauma can be caused by a wide variety of events, but there are a few common aspects. There is frequently a violation of the person’s familiar ideas about the world and of their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity.”  – Wikipedia

Part 1, The Girl Who Lived

The day started out as an ordinary day …

Saturday morning in December. Oh, what luxury to stay in bed a little while longer and sleep in!

It had been yet another stressful week at work. It was December 5, my sister’s birthday. I thought, I should call her. Later, I tried, but she was attending a work-related workshop of some kind and couldn’t talk on the phone then.

I got up, and soon my brother-in-law and I were decorating the inner part of the backyard with Christmas lights. Next weekend would be the party at our house for our motorcycle riders’ club, and I wanted the house to look nice. After we finished with the lights, I worked in the garden for a little while. Then, I ate a decent lunch, for which I would later be grateful.

My husband, Desmond, and I had errands to do that day. We left the house at about 2:15 p.m. We had things to drop off at various places, shopping to do, and maybe even pick up an outdoor fire pit to use during the party. I’d wanted one for a long time, and now was a perfect time to finally get one. I also wanted to look at some sewing machines, and make my final decision on the one I would get to replace my broken one. I was really looking forward to getting it, anticipating that I would get to make good use of it over the holiday break from work.

After visiting my Dad, and as it got dark, we headed toward Home Depot to look at, or get, a fire pit. As we drove west toward the sunset, I remarked, “Look at the sky, it’s so beautiful, all pink and gold and silver.” The streaks made by trailing clouds picked up the fading light and radiated it over the landscape. I drove into the parking lot of Home Depot, looped around, and pulled into a parking spot. I did not know then that it would be the last time I would ever park my Sonata.

I am telling you all these details not to bore you to death, but to tell you how “normal” that day was, with no premonition of what was to come. I could not have known how my life would be turned upside down in a split second, how tenuous a person’s connection with reality, and how almost everything that is important to me could be taken away in an instant.

We walked around in the store for a little while, comparing and looking at fire pits. “I’ll come back with Pat and get it with the truck,” Desmond said. He didn’t think it would fit into the Sonata’s trunk. I thought it would, but I was getting impatient to get home, and we had one more stop to make at Trader Joe’s. So, we walked out to the car, got in it, started the engine. I wish now that we’d taken the time to get the fire pit because what happened next might not have happened. It would have delayed us enough to make the timing right for us to avoid hell on earth.

As I got to the street, I looked at the traffic. Usually, I will avoid turning left onto a busy street, but this time there was no traffic. I looked twice. There were no cars. So I began my left-hand turn to go west. The car was almost straight, and headed west, when suddenly, a pair of headlights appeared out of the dusk right in front of my car! There was no time to react, the headlights had appeared six inches in front of me.

Desmond yelled my name. We both saw the lights at the same time, as if they had materialized out of nothing. I had no time to do anything, and it was going to be a head-on collision.

BAM! The sound of the impact was terrible. The sound of it is still in my ears. I suppose I heard the sound of both air bags deploying, and the sound of the two cars violently coming together. All I saw was a million stars exploding in my eyes …

Next: direct aftermath

Pie Town

Day 8, July 11, 2015

Pie Town, NM

It rained all night. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Overnight rain followed Friday’s ride of rain for half the day. Now, we were safe and snug in Alpine, having a restful night after a full riding day.

I woke up about 2 a.m. and looked out the window of the motel. Fog was lying close to the Earth, yet a crescent moon was visible, blurry through the fog. The sky was clear overhead, and millions of stars were glittering in the black velvet sky. I stood there in the cold room, enchanted by the sight, marveling at the beauty.

Later in the morning when I finally got up, the sun was high and powerful, as it is at higher elevations, yet it was not the malevolent, overbearing presence that it is in Phoenix. It was going to be a good riding day. Hal and I had breakfast at Alpine Grill. Nourished for the day, we put our riding gear on, then got onto highway 180 toward the route to Pie Town, NM, a place we’d been wanting to visit for some time.

The route was beautiful, and fun. We rode highway 180 to Reserve, and then took highway 12, which was through green grassy fields on narrow pavement, the surface of which was covered with tar snakes. “Tar snakes” are lines of tar that the highway department uses to fill in the cracks on a roadway. They think that “fixes” the surface, but when they use this tar, it can move under a motorcycle’s wheels as the bike rolls over it. It feels to the rider like he or she is slipping, and when leaned over in a turn, it is a very disconcerting feeling. There were so many tar snakes on the roadway that it took a lot of (unnecessary) concentration to choose a solid line on the road. That section didn’t last too long, but it was annoying to have to go slow.

Farther along on highway 12, with the sky ahead darkening with storm clouds, we stopped and put on raincoats (again). We soon got into the rain, and also got to a narrow straight section of the road. It started to rain harder, and when I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw that a big pickup truck pulling a trailer had suddenly appeared. He was coming up fast. We rode faster, too. There wasn’t a good opportunity to pass, so the truck stayed behind us the whole way to Datil, pushing us to go faster and faster. It rained harder and harder, and the ride turned into a somewhat frenetic one. I thought it was risky for the person driving the truck to be going so fast while pulling a trailer in the rain. Finally, in Datil, the pickup disappeared as we turned onto highway 60 for the last leg into Pie Town.

It was a short distance to Pie Town, and the rain let up. It became a sun and clouds day, and we parked, then put away our raincoats before walking the short distance to the restaurant, the Pie-O-Neer.

At the Pie-O-Neer, the pies were freshly baked, and hot out of the oven. So hot that some of them had to cool down before they were cut. We had a choice of three different pies, a peach pie, a lemon chess pie, and an apple crumble with caramel. I chose the apple crumble with caramel, and I even added some ice cream. Hal chose the same. The choice was a no-brainer for both of us.

The piece of pie took up almost all of the plate it was served on, and then when the ice cream started melting, we had to eat quickly so it wouldn’t ooze over the sides. Well, we almost didn’t make a mess.

We had arrived at the restaurant during a lull in the activity, but as we sat down to eat our pie, people started to come in. Pie Town is surprisingly famous, as is the restaurant we were in. We watched as the pies disappeared, and then people had to sit and wait for the other pies to cool down before they could be served. It seems like you get what you get if you go there, but it really doesn’t matter because the pies are all so good. I was hoping for strawberry rhubarb pie, the flavor I like the best, but the apple was incredible, too.

After we ate, we walked around the interesting, historic restaurant, looking at old photographs on the walls. Finally, we shot a few photographs of our own, and then got back on the bikes.

The day’s route was a big circle, so we continued riding west on highway 60. We were headed to Quemado, where we turned onto highway 32. It was a lovely road, well-maintained, no tar snakes. The views were of mountains, lush green meadows, and idyllic rural tableaux. I am so glad we got to experience this road because it was a wonderful, fast, beautiful loop back to highway 12 and Reserve.

From there, we rode on highway 180, and this time we were able to enjoy a fast romp through a twisty part of that road all the way back to Alpine, our last bit of fun in New Mexico.

Dinner was at Alpine Grill. Then we walked around town, enjoying the calm evening of pastel clouds and an almost clear sky. We watched the last sunset of our trip, my eyes stinging with unshed tears. Our perfect week was drawing to a close, and soon we would have to go back to the heat and routine of Phoenix.

It was not a happy thought.

Nanowrimo 2014

I’ve decided once again to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Today is Day 3. I’ve got 5303 words down in the quest to write 50,000 words in 30 days. As in previous NaNo’s, I started with a good story idea. However, this time I think I might actually have one that will get me through the whole month without dying out about halfway through. That is what has happened to me in the past, but this time I’ve got the ending somewhat firmly in mind. At least there is a solid goal.

I started Saturday, diligently writing my 1667 words. I’ve actually gone a few words over during the first two days of writing, and it’s coming somewhat easily to me. I hope it lasts through the mid-month doldrums when it is so hard to keep going.

Wish me luck.

The iconic GS bike

Today’s prompt:

“Write about something that is iconic to you. Include a photograph.”

When I first saw the BMW F650GS, I thought it was the most beautiful, outrageous motorcycle I had ever seen, especially the black one. It looked thrillingly frightening, intimidating, but gorgeous, just sitting there on the showroom floor at Victory BMW in Chandler, AZ.

I had only recently begun to ride motorcycles, and thought, if I could only be able to ride a bike like that. Little did I know …

I got my first black F650GS, a used 2005 model, but it turned out to be not a good bike for me. It had a lot of issues, but I thought it was just me so I sold it. I looked for another brand of dual sport motorcycle to replace the GS, but never found what I wanted. So, I decided to give the GS another chance. I found another one, this time a black 2006 F650GS with only 100 miles on it. The guy I bought it from lived on a dirt road, so when I rode the bike home, the first miles I rode it were in dirt. I was so excited because this GS felt good to me. It felt so good that a couple of weeks later I rode it to and around Colorado for a week.

The rest, as they say, is history. The black F650GS that I named Jewel was my only touring bike for a couple of years until I got my F800ST. But that didn’t mean I stopped riding the GS, or even stopped taking it on long trips. I rode it on day trips that were mainly off-road, and I still took it on long trips that were focused on dirt riding.

In Death Valley, Hal is on the right:

Jewel’s been through just about everything, including the Death Valley adventure last year that turned into facing down a strong winter storm as we fought our way home. Jewel’s been in very rough terrain as well, but in contrast, been on the interstate keeping up with big trucks.

I love my Jewel, aptly named, I think. She has 43,000 miles now. I keep looking at other bikes, thinking there might be a better dual sport motorcycle, but I haven’t found one.

Jewel in snow:

My BMW F650GS is my iconic motorcycle, the symbol of all the different types of riding that I love. Every time I get on the GS, I think to myself over and over, I love this bike!