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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

October 30, 2010

Spending the night with Tarahumara Indians

After the rally was over there where a few stragglers that stuck around the park, Deya and I were among them. We were camped beside Mike and Becky who had a pretty slick set up, an RV with a toy hauler on the front to park the bikes in. What a good way to comfortably base your headquarters out of while exploring the area by bike.

It’s funny the stories people have and unfortunate that more of them don’t get shared. I know I have been trying to tell fewer stories, or one ups, and get more out of the people we share with because people are just interesting. Mike for example, has been riding a long time and with no shortage of adventurous spirit had set out with two buddies. One of the fellows was a tough troop in his 80’s and the other was a physical education (PE) teacher, about the fittest of them all. Of course, the three lads were apart of some tour in the outback of Mexico, when they decided to set off on their own little excursion for the day, the adventure got very interesting. They headed off into the mountains taking various turns, Mike knew exactly where they were, and as they got deeper and deeper into the woods of Mexico they got stuck in a bad section. Unable to pull the bikes out they abandoned them and set off on foot, still with plenty of daylight left to get assistance. Of course they found some Tarahumara natives who expertly scratched their heads and pointed off into the hills to where they needed to go. Though the Tarahumara Indians didn’t like outsiders, Mexicans or others, they were not pointing with their middle fingers so the directions must have been good? Three days later, Mike had confidently led the trio in every logical direction possible, having been shoed out of some small native villages, where the local language is older that the hills, with only a tortilla between them, they were lost.

At this point the senior of the three was having a shut down, explaining that the colostomy bag on his hip was full and organ failure was probably forthcoming. Colostomy bag! Having known the fellow for a long time only added to the surprise but by now it didn’t matter, the river they were following to civilization was leading them no where. Toenails where starting to depart from the feet, severe fatigue and hunger where setting in from the relentless hill and trail climbing and the water from the local streams probably wasn’t helping much. The two remaining firm fellows dragged their senior into a hut despite the dismay of the local natives and it nearly became a physical conflict, with language being a total barrier. The situation was desperate, the local directions they had and Mike’s sense of direction where certainly in question, of course Mike couldn’t figure out why his buds, knowing him well, would follow him through the woods until they were nearly dead.

It didn’t matter now, the dude on the floor of some native hut, pale and full of shit, was saying his final peace and the PE instructor was stealing the socks off his feet. A decision was made to make an attempt for the PE teacher to get back to the bikes and hope for a rescue. Mike stayed to care for his friend but little could be done to alleviate the toxic shock that was probably taking its toll. After some time he went out side and wandered down the river a ways. There he saw a monster of man wearing all black, he yelled and approached, in broken English the Army rescue agent told him to come with him, Mike refused trying to explain they had a medical issue and needed to recover their friend. He ended up convincing the fellow to follow him to the native village. They got their buddy out of there and back to the bikes, a jeep was there and the search team had just retrieved the bikes. What they learned is that the team was just about to leave, after three days of searching it had been called off, fortunately the PE teacher had made his way back and found help at the bikes.

As the story goes all three guys are still friends and riders and as tragic as it all might sound the tale is told with such gusto and humour that it makes for great entertainment. The antics these mature adults would get up to cannot even get mentioned here but can be the envy of many young fellows like myself. We had a great time. Before we left one of the other stragglers, Carl, helped us out with some routing ideas and put us in contact with a friend of his, Beemer Chef ( http://theoasisofmysoul.com ). We would end up meeting the Chef at a gallery event in Bisbee, Texas later on.

The following day we headed into town to sort out some insurance, because of the difficulty at the Mexican border we had been adjusting plans and moving West out of Texas. This caused me to run out of insurance for the bike. It would cost us an extra $535.00 for the extra week of insurance but its better than the slim chance of having a problem and getting sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It took most of our day and so we headed out in the afternoon for Fredericksburg. We couldn’t make much time and ended up riding late which is against our S.O.P. Deya decided it would make sense to contact someone and see if they could host us for the evening. A lovely couple that were retired Engineers, had moved to the South from Washington, came and got us as we were lost in the night and they put us up, I was now surrounded by Engineers! It was my birthday and it was nice to have a comfortable place to stay that evening, thanks for that Roger and Kate!

The next day we departed and as we travelled through Texas, every time we stopped lots of people invited us to stay at their homes but we needed to keep going. Our goal was to meet the Beemer Chef in Bisbee. We had contacted him earlier and he invited us to his place in Big Bend but he wasn’t going to be there. Instead we decided to attend the gallery showing of his art in an eclectic little town in Arizona.

Our next destination was Alamogordo in New Mexico. This would be one of our longer days at about 700-800 km, which was okay because the traveling was easy like the prairies, because we would stay with another BMW associate named Richard. As we approached the city, which is located in the valley surrounded by two mountain ranges, we passed through Cloudcroft which has an altitude of roughly 9000 feet. The riding through the mountain pass was enjoyable and it was nice to finally get back onto the sides of the tires again. It was cold and getting onto dark, as we descended the mountain we could see the city ahead and could feel the temperature improving. I could also smell the rain coming and we could see ominous clouds over the city. We pulled over to check our bearings and put on rain gear. We were 13.9 miles from our destination. As we climbed back on our bikes a black SUV, coming up the hill, made a u-turn and came up beside us. A retired couple told us we shouldn’t continue, that they were returning because of a threatening Tornado with golf ball sized hail stones and 70 mph winds.

Deya looked scared, I wanted a picture of a tornado but better sense came to me and the folks that warned us offered us to stay at their place East of Cloudcroft. Now fully enveloped in darkness the twisty mountain pass we enjoyed turned into a difficult fast paced race to avoid the storm that was approaching. Lightning was pounding down around us and the rain was already starting, there was a sense of haste in the air and with the other drivers around us with a feeling of needing to batten down the hatches. We winded our way into their home in the mountain and found shelter there; with bikes parked we enjoyed a stormy but safe evening with our hosts Judy and Scott. Again impressed at the hospitality and concern people have for us, Deya and I were grateful for meeting them that night.

The next morning we headed off in lovely weather to visit Richard, it seemed that when we got there Richard had a fully booked home so his friend Mary would host us that evening. We hung out with Richard for the day and had dinner with his family. Richard is a seasoned rider, instructor and simply an interesting guy. It would have been nice to spend more time getting to know him. Our evening with Mary was great too, what a wonderful lady, very positive and bright, a real pleasure for Deya and I.

Heading out the next day we stopped in White Sands, the place is weird and interesting. Because of the previous weather issue most of the area was closed but we managed to see some of it. They could have named it Gypsum but White Sands seemed easier. There’s a huge air force base there as well as multiple missile test ranges and a NASA research centre. The roads are pretty much straight except for a short jaunt up and down the other mountain range.

We headed West out of Alamogordo and made it to Deming where we would spend the night at the Rock Hound State Park, a primitive sight and the least visited of any of the state parks, for only eight dollars a night. It was beautiful and the night sky inspired dreams and a sense of peace. Full of stars with the backdrop of a small city in the valley we were perched on the edge of a small mountain range, the moon nearly full and so bright it was like having vehicles headlights pointed at our tent all night. I got up around midnight to the sound of coyotes howling and a short walk to the bathroom. If it wasn’t for the chilly night air I might have kept walking into the desert, it was beautiful and mesmerizing. We departed early the next day but I could have stayed a couple more days. It’s a lesson we haven’t learned yet on this trip, to stay and enjoy, to schedule out the schedule or to disregard the need to move on. Despite that we were on a mission to get to Bisbee, Arizona.

Midnight Moon Shine
Bisbee, what a place, homes are built across bridges and ravines, on the hills among winding roads with colours and murals everywhere. We arrived and saw his motorbike parked outside the gallery. The folks inside had expected us and when we got there Ara (Beemer Chef) was just showing up. He had other guests showing up as well and we got to meet a bunch of good people like Sean and Robert. Thanks to Robert for dinner! Thanks Sean for the quick refresher on the map use. Thanks Ara for letting us crash at your pad, I know we’ll see you again sometime, sorry we couldn’t attend your dinner that evening I bet we missed out!

The gallery showing was a good time with plenty of fine folks, a few not so fine but that’s only a minor distraction. For the most part we met more riders and saw the value of such an event at work. Our intention was to spend the evening with Ara and Sean (Robert had a place to camp), have breakfast then meet with Tony and a team who would arrive from Tucson to collect us and ride a route back to Tony’s place. Unfortunately Ara had some technical issues and had to leave very early in the morning and wouldn’t return until the afternoon, I hope that worked out well for him, I’m sure it did.

Despite that, we arranged our things, said goodbye to Sean and met the crew at a nearby coffee shop. When we arrived there was an awesome display of bikes and riders which included: Ricardo, Robert, Antonio & Barbara, Tony (host), Ray and Carlos. We had coffee with the team and it was immediately easy and enjoyable. What a great way to spend the morning in a cool town with a good group of riders.

When we departed Bisbee Ricardo and Carlos were going to take some dirt roads back to Tucson, I really wanted to join them but Deya and I already set a rule that we would not separate paths when we were both riding so we headed back with the rest of the group. Tony set a pace that was nearly perfect, respecting our 55 mph rule and Antonio brought up the rear, blocking aggressive traffic, like a champ. It’s not often that you can ride with a group and it’s comfortable, most riders relate to this, but this group was mature and predictable and it made group riding enjoyable. Antonio and Barbara broke off and headed home when we turned in to check out the famous city of Tombstone.

Sean, (Me), Ara

Antonio, Deya, Barbara

Three tough guys in Tombstone (Tony, Ray, Me)

That evening was very enjoyable as we drank Don Julio and chatted with Ray and Tony about a wide variety of topics over a lovely dinner. We would spend several more nights with Tony and a short trip North to visit Rich, who we met in Whitehorse. Our 3 night rule was broken at Tony’s, we have to be vigilant to appreciate his hospitality and patience for us but I think it’ll be fine; Tony is a fantastic character with an outstanding sense of humour.

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