From Bats to Barbeque

It all started out as a ride to the Golden Aspen Rally, in Ruidoso, NM. Steve Hull, rode his Valkyrie and I was up on my old Goldwing. There are many different ways to get somewhere but a good motorcycle is one of the better ones, that I know. It's not just transportation; it's a time machine. It puts you in a different place where time seems to stretch out and relax. You can find it, along a country road but it's also something that you find inside yourself. The worries, that you started out with, are soon left behind and then just disappear. The only thing that exists is the present moment and the road, ahead. When you leave your routine behind and get out under the sky for a while, good things just seem to happen.

For two weeks plus, we were totally immersed in a completely different world. It's a world populated by different people, places and experiences. It's a place to learn and find out what is real. Someone once named it Flyover Country but I just call it America.

We had a great time, at the rally. I camped in my Time Out and Steve (ever the minimalist) in his backpacker's tent. We had one day of very heavy rain but fortunately, we were both in the trade show, spending money, at the time. Some were a little slow getting there because of the rain but the attendance got bigger, every day of the event, and the campgrounds and hotels filled up.

This event is popular with Texans and we had some real characters, from that state, staying in our campground. Bob Justice was one of those, who like to do things a little bit differently. He rides a flamboyantly chromed, custom painted Valkyrie, with six straight pipes and a blonde female mannequin, dressed in full leathers, on the back. He is just one of the interesting people, who make the Golden Aspen, unique.

There are so many things to do, at one of these events, that you can spread yourself a little thin and if you don't show a little restraint, around the trade show, you can also run up a pretty big Visa bill. Since we were doing it the TA way, we didn't have any problems with this sort of thing. When things started to get out of hand, we just looked for the nearest restaurant.

On one eventful ride, up to the town of Cloudcroft and the solar observatory at Sunspot, we became first responders at an accident scene. After leaving about 100 feet of skid marks, a Victory rider had departed his bike and catapulted himself into the weeds. He was seriously injured and our cell phones couldn't get out. While Steve stayed with the downed rider, I rode, WFO, down the mountain to Cloudcroft to get help. My new air-horns seemed to sense that this was an emergency and shorted in the on position. Most of the people, in the shopping center, in Cloudcroft, heard me coming and, fortunately, one of them was the Sheriff. I flagged him down and we finally got some ambulance responders to the scene. From then on, all we could do was to stand by and hope that our presence had made a difference.

After seven event-filled days, we left Ruidoso behind and went on to Carlsbad Caverns, with a stop in Roswell, NM at the Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha dealer to take care of the air-horn problem. We spent a whole day under, at the Caverns, and it was an incredible experience. Steve had never been there. We were the last ones down the road, after the bat flight.

There would be other stops, on this trip, at the Meteor Crater and at the Grand Canyon, but I think that the thing that really made the trip memorable was our stay in Texas. I want to especially thank Jim Hill and the gracious people of Baileyville and Rosebud, Texas for the warm welcome that they gave to two grimy bikers, who rode into town, through a swarm of bugs, one night. We came as strangers but departed, a few days later, as friends.

I even got to tend the pit for a traditional Texas BBQ. While I watched the fire, Steve and Jim prepared everything else. Those of you who are aware of my actual cooking skills know just how chancy a situation this was, for all concerned. Fortunately, I had expert instruction from Tim Tumlin, the pit builder, and Wright Ellison, the next-door neighbor. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and nobody died, as a result of eating it, so I guess that part was a success.

Being trusted to cook 90 pounds of brisket for 65-75 people, down there, is not a job to be taken, lightly. For all I know, if I had messed up, it might have been a quick trip, out of town, with tar and feathers, or maybe that old mesquite snag, in the back yard, and a stout rope. With visions of all those Pace Picante commercials, going through your head, you just never know.

Those Texans take their outdoor cooking, seriously. ___________________________________________________________________

The Drifter