The Charlie Bravo Story

Desert weirdness

2935 miles in 6 days; camping out of the back of a Honda CRV, and riding a Honda CT125; I know, I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either. Especially when you factor the size of the vehicles into the decision to include a goofy 65# black dog in the the expedition.

Why would we do this? The answer is the same as what you get when you cross an elephant and a rhinoceros: elephino. I can’t explain it, but sometimes you just have to stop, drop and roll for a myriad of reasons, or for no reason at all.

Nuns, solitary wanderers, migrant workers, families dealing with disability and heartache, rowdy hairdressers working the swing shift at the Quik-E-Mart to make ends meet, inattentive six foot eight Wichuta State basketball players that rear end our trailer on the interstate; the encounters may all be strange, but we meet no strangers.

One afternoon, we were stopped at our spot in Gateway; Charlie was participating in the Airing of the Royal Loins, and I was tapdancing some drivel into the phone when a van appeared from out of nowhere right in the middle of our nowhere. “Great”, I thought; “just when I had found a groove to fall into”. Then the young man climbed out of the 4wd van with HIS dog, and I my jaw dropped; I had previously met him at this very spot some five years previous, when Charlie and I had made our first trip west on the yellow Suzuki. The floodgates opened, and before we knew it, four hours of existential BS had flowed forth. Our paths couldn’t have been both more different and alike; when Covid struck, he had voluntarily self-distanced, found that he had the knack for it, and just never stopped. His permanent residence is now the van, his roommate is an elderly dog, and he finances his dreams by teaching parasailing; that’s what I call a Renaissance man. Should he ever head east to travel the Natchez Trace, he has a standing invitation to come visit the Casa del Whackos.

Prior to that day, I had never been hugged by a guy four times during one conversation, and probably never will again. And that’s just fine by me, as some experiences aren’t meant to be reenacted. But, just like the encounter with the sisters at Our Lady of the Desert earlier in the trip, sometimes the only answer to the question “why?” is “why not?”

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

So, now we’re home, and it’s a bit claustrophobic, albeit in a good way. I’ve traded the confines of a sleeping bag the back of an SUV for a king size bed; sounds reasonable, until you include mom and the dogs in the equation. After being thoroughly moistened by the inmates upon arrival, I have now been relegated to my 13.5″ of allotted bedspace. Someone seeing this situation for the first time would assume that a normal human could never sleep like this, but that would be an optical conclusion.

It’s always a party at the Casa del Whackos.

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