Those of you who are regulars to this forum know that besides guns, classic cars and shooting, Sarge's next love is his motorcycles. (Of course Lt. Linda is a the top of the "Love" list.) But here is a motorcycle story about a good way not to enjoy a motor cycle trip.
Spring got here and with it a bundle of jobs that could not be done during the winter. There were 4 cars to repair and the spring storms, rain and hail added more work. I think my neighbors thought my wife and I were having marital problems, I spent so much time up on the roof of our house. But no sooner had I repaired one storm's damage and another 'winds to 60 mph' and hail would hit us and I was back climbing the ladder. Then two cars broke down and I was under the car hidding from my wife (or so the neighbors thought) Finally a couple of weeks were open (I thought) until Lt. Linda announced her siblings were all coming to Colorado and then the family were going to the West Slope (Grand Junction Colorado). Terrific!
I made my own plans.
I have been for years planning to go to Tucson, Arizona where my Grandfather's tribe has a reservation. I wanted to check for relatives and see if I could get my membership in the tribe on the books. Not to share in the wealth of the tribal casino but to honor my Grandfather if nothing else. I am the only one of the family that was ever interested in our anchestors.
So off I went with my sleeping bag, tent and a rucksack bungee corded down on the rear seat and luggage carrier of my Suzuki Intruder motorcycle. By then it was summer even though the calender said June. What was the trip like? Well if you have been watching the news you will probably remember scenes of the forest and brush fires that Arizona and New Mexico have been having. If you had know and could watch the TV screen closely you would have seen a guy in his leather jacket with a sleeping bag, tent and rucksack riding out of the smoke and down the road. It seemed everywhere I went there was either a fire storm, smoke storm, wind storm, or dust storm. Not to mention the detours I ended up taking to avoid "fire evacuation area's and towns." Oh did I forget to mention the temperature was 105 degrees? But I finally made it to Tucson and stopped at the Tourist Information place. I asked for directions to the Yaqui Indian Reservation. And no one knew where it was. A friendly filling station owner said it was north of town about 2 miles and a sign would tell me to turn West. Nope, even the sheriff of the little town that was there didn't know where it was. Finally I used up all of the daylight and had to find a hotel to stay for the night. Just on the off hand chance I asked the Hotel manager as I left the next morning., His directions were the opposite of the others. He said it was South and turn on 119th highway. I did find one sign that mentioned the tribe but no arrows (can you imagine a Indian sign without arrows?) I rode around for several hours and finally decided that all these rich looking houses and big shopping areas would probably not be in a Indian Reservation, so I took a road that sounded Indian like in the name and rode down it. Finally I stopped at a hovel, shack, barely a house? and with some barefoot kids running around the dirt yard and asked one of the boys if his mother was home.
Soon a very chubby and red skinned with long black haired lady came out. NOW WE ARE GETTING SOMEWHERE
She was very pleasant when I asked where the Yaqui Administration bulding was. Running back into her shack 'er' house she came out with a note pad and drew a map for me. And gave me a phone number. I thanked her and was on my way, less than 30 minutes later I was standing in front of a most impressive building. Beautiful is the word. A native American named Robert was just getting out of his car and he asked if he could be of help. He gave me a quick tour of the grounds and named the different buildings. There were grade schools, high schools, industrial schools where the students both young and old were taught a trade and hands on with tools, from computers to lathes. There were big meeting halls and athletic courts. Also a hotel like building for homeless family members. The complex was about 10 acres large and it looked like more building was planned.
The Lady that was in charge of memberships was not there that day but would be back tomorrow.
Robert must have mentioned me as the lady was almost waiting at the reception desk when I got there. The trip was a success and I returned home with a folder full of applications, information, and history of my Grandfathers tribe.
I would like to say it was a pleasant trip back but by then the number of fires had multipled and the wind was pushing them and the lone foolish biker around the road and mountain passes. And when I got to Raton pass on the Colorado/New Mexico border the whole town of Raton NM was shut down And so was the Raton Pass. The fires had burned down the power poles and no one in town had any electricity. That meant the gas pumps in the gas station did not work, the cash registers in the resturants and stores didn't work and the traffic lights were all out. And I needed gasoline and food. The town was full of tourists but no one was buying The School Gym was opened up for people to stay and the police were advising travelers to turn around and go back South. The local Mc Donalds was giving all the food they had cooked away so it would not spoil and the travelers wanted to pay for it but no cash registers. Finally the manager of the fast food found a big glass container and set it on the counter and told everyone that if they wanted to pay or contribute any money just put it in the glass jar. I managed to get a half a cup of cold coffee for which I felt I was blessed. And yes I tossed a dollar in to that managers charity and community spirit. I was waiting at a gas station hopefully for the power to come back on so I could gas up my motorcycle when I saw a truck driving down the highway from the north (Raton Pass that was closed was north of town) He pulled into the gas station and I walked over to him and asked if the pass was open? He smiled and said that they opened the barracade to let some fire trucks go though and he slipped in behind them. Well, I reasoned, if they couldn't see a big truck like that maybe they wouldn't see a little motorcycle either. So I took off up the highway.
It was obvious to me that the New Mexico side of the border was getting the worst of the fires. As I rode along the road,burning embers were rolling down the mountain sides and falling into the ditch along the highway. Up above I could see through breaks in the smoke, Pine trees bursting into flame as burning embers were blown by the fire storm caught the trees way up high on the mountain side. I had a wet handkerchief in a plastic ZIP-LOCK bag in my Leather jacket pocket and I pulled it out and wrapped it around my mouth and nose so I wouldn't breath in the smoke and gasses from the burning fire. Finally I reached the top of the pass and happily saw that there was very little fire or smoke on the downhill north side (the Colorado side) I was never so glad to see the little town of Trinadad, CO. and it's gas stations in my life.
When I finally got home I hit the sack. My wife came home a couple of hours later and asked if I was just lazing around all the time she was gone. Luckily I was too tired to stand her at attention and chew her out good, even if she is a Lieutenant.