The Charlie Bravo Story

Going Down the K-Hole

The New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route, or NMBDR, is a 1300 mile combination of jeep trails, fire roads and single track across the most remote regions of New Mexico. Starting in Dell City, TX and ending at Antonito, CO, the BDR crosses mountain ranges, desert vistas, and every other land feature imaginable(but obviously no swamps), and usually takes 1-2 weeks to complete, based on weather and other acts of God.
A few years ago, Zach, my buddy Craig and myself decided to give it a go ; Charlie elected to sit this one out, as hot deserts aren’t her thing anyway. And we finished it, at least the New Mexico part.I had just crossed the Colorado border and was barreling towards the finish line of Antonito, less than ten miles away, when I noticed a bit too late that I was in the process of over-cooking a turn. I evidently over-corrected and BAM!, low-sided the motorcycle into the gravel hard and without dignity. When the dust finally settled, it revealed my sorry state of affairs, resting uncomfortably in the gravel and my bike somewhere out of my line of sight, engine still screaming. Even though my body was pointing east and west, my right leg and foot were spiraled and splayed unnaturally outwards towards the east, as is if to be forlornly pointing the direction I should have been going.
It would take twenty posts to describe all of the miraculous things that happened over the next few hours; I will say that if you ever feel the urge to have a motorcycle incident, plan ahead and have it in the backcountry of southern Colorado, as the paramedics, law enforcement officers, and other emergency personnel out there are without equal. Except this one particular Colorado state trooper, who actually came to the hospital ER to issue me a citation; the charge? “Driving too fast on a mountain highway”. Are you kidding me? “Mountain highway”? That’s just a dirt road back in Arkansas.
After multiple failed attempts to cut my heavy motorcycle boots from my gimped up leg left me screaming, the ER personel decided to bring out the big guns, pain management-wise. It was then that I was asked one of the most delightful questions I have ever heard in a medical setting: “do you have problems with hallucinations?” My response was, “I don’t, but you’re about to!”; anybody that has been around me for any length of time will tell you that my response to any type of anesthesia is, shall we say, not just a bit over the top, if not outright spectacular. My wife says I definitely charge admission.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, they hit me with a dose of Ketamine. If you ever get asked by a medical professional if you would like some “Special K” for breakfast, the proper response is “yes, please, and thank you”; it is simply wonderful. My spiraling journey down the K-hole deposited me directly into the heart of the pre-Spanish occupation of Central America, amidst the kingdom of the ancient Aztecs.
And it was fantastic; everything was in day-glo colors, massive apartment-like cliff dwellings rising up from a beautiful canopy of dense jungle, multicolored parrots flying through the sky.
But the best part was hanging out with the Aztec priests. Under any other circumstances, they would have been an alarming lot, clad in robes crafted from the finest ocelot hides and sporting the prerequisite jaguar teeth necklaces and obsidian ear and nose plugs and just the sort to be jonesing at the chance to carve a heart from the ribs from a short white time traveler. But these priests must have been from a different parish, because they were of the laid-back, uber-chill variety. Somehow, we could understand each other and had the best time just “hanging out”, discussing among other things the process of pumping fresh water into the cliff city and removing the waste water through a series of viaducts.
Eventually, the trip began to fade, but I was not ready to come back. I realized that I was actually back in the hospital bed, and there seemed to be a crowd of people hovering just out of focus somewhere in the vicinity of my right leg. But I didn’t care, as I was telling everyone that would listen about my new friends the Aztecs.
But there was a problem: something or someone kept methodically squeezing my bicep. I know now that it was a blood pressure cuff, but at the time, I was absolutely convinced that one of the priests had followed me back through the portal. I could actually see him, just chilling there in a corner the ER inall his Aztec-ian regalia; I was describing him to everyone, explaing that he was uber-cool with absolutely no chest-carving intentions, but could they ask him to PLEASE quit squeezing my arm?
This is where Zach enters the story. As this was all occuring in the ER, not the OR, he had a front row seat to the entire production. So in an effort to prolong the entertainment, he started asking me leading questions; “Dad, if there is an Aztec priest with us here in the ER, what’s his name?” Well, what would you think and Aztec priest WOULD be named? Something like Quetzalcoatl? Tezcatlipoca? Maybe even Montezuma? Not in my world; Zach swears that I had the goofiest grin on my face when I told everyone the priest’s name was “Duaaaaaane”.
Yeah, that’s right, Duane. Duane the Aztec priest and his best friend Bret, exploring planet Ketamine while riding two up on a ratty yellow dirt bike; let’s see Marvel make a movie about that!
Follow up: a few months later, my leg was healed enough to be out of the cast and into a walking boot. JoAnn and I drove back out west with a trailer to retrieve my motorcycle and meet all of the people that had made that day such a rousing success. The last stop was at the Conejos County hospital, the standard by which all other hospitals should be judged. The best part was that I had never before seen the young lady working the ER when we arrived, as she must have been off work during that crazy night. Yet the first words out of her mouth as I came walking down the corridor: “hey! You’re the guy that talks to Aztecs!”… I understand that my performance has since been featured in a training video on how to deal with a peculiar Ketamine reaction. I don’t think that it was peculiar at all; I think is was awesome.
And so does Duane.

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