Dad here; two years ago today, everything went from good to not so good in a micro second. Mom questioned the wisdom of me wanting to revisit the scene of my near demise; all I could think of were the ten lepers that were healed by Jesus, and only one returned to offer thanks. As it turned out, this trip wasn’t only for me.
Charlie and I loaded up Miss Ellie and headed west for Wolf Pen Gap; the first stop was unplanned, the 4th floor of the hospital in Hot Springs where I had been incarcerated. Seeing the halls where I had made my laps, dragging a mess of wires, tubes and other medical misery in an effort to wake up the plumbing, snapped everything back into focus. I left a note for a particular nurse who had went above and beyond the call of duty, and no, it wasn’t the nurse who had performed the sponge bath, but thanks for asking.
Then it was west towards the scene of the crime; it remained overcast and the fog refused to burn off as Ellie chugged through the mountains. After the pavement turned to dirt for what seemed an eternity, there it was; what I remembered as a split rail fence were actually rail road ties bolted together. For a good while, I had the place to my self, the only sound was of Charlie very disrespectfully flouncing through the woods, totally unconcerned about any past experiences, negative or otherwise. Then the sound of four wheelers and ATVs broke the reverie, and like Charlie, it was time to move on.
I remember the ride from the the fence to the field where the helicopter could land being the most painful of my life, with every creek crossing and pothole carefully designed to shake my guts out onto the floor of the ambulance. As it turned out, there were no major obstacles of any sort, just a fairly smooth gravel road, although I would have never believed that at the time.
There is absolutely no cell coverage in that area; when Zach rode for help, the only public land line for a 50 miles radius was at the Big Fork Country Store, my next destination. The owner remembered every detail of that day, how she had stayed open for Zach until the helicopter had departed from the field across the highway from her store. She said that the trails of Wolf Pen are littered with crosses, memorials to those who didn’the make it out, and of all those that had mishaps like mine and survived, I was the first to return. It was then that I realized that this trip wasn’t meant for me.
The next stop was to meet the ranger who Zach had encountered and led to where I lay. His willingness to share his recollections of that day were vital to me being able to put the pieces together, and I had to meet this guy. He agreed to meet at the station for a quick chat before going back out on patrol, one of his initial comments when I pulled into the parking lot:
“when I saw that old brown Subaru coming up the road, I knew that had to be you”.
We had a great time discussing the twists and turns of life, how the accident in Wolf Pen flowed into the story of Charlie; I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed with a fellow human being. Humble yet professional, personable yet direct, what a totally class act. I have no idea how, when, or if we will ever cross paths again, but sometimes that’s not the issue; the world is a better place just knowing that some people are in it.
I never discovered the name of any in the group that stayed with me until the paramedics arrived; the only witness listed in the ranger’s report was Zach. But make no mistake; I’m not finished yet, and someday I will find them.
We rolled hard back to the Casa as we were expecting a special guest, a rider from Cordova, Spain who is riding his Africa Twin motorcycle up, down, and around the world. After spending the night at the Casa, he’s continuing across Texas, New Mexico, California, then south to the tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego; I realize that “he that compares himself to others is not wise”, but it sure makes my little adventures look paltry in comparison. I’ll be posting a link to his blog and FB page; this guy is also the real deal.
I’ll be turning the page back over to Charlie, as she appears to he getting a little antsy to be posting again, and pictures will be forthcoming as well…
Don’t forget to take advantage of the free shipping throughout Monday; calendars and mugs are going quick!